Our latest Councillor Column is written by Richard Trail, SNP representative for Helensburgh and Lomond South.

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The folk of Yorkshire have a knack of capturing a truth in a pithy saying. One such is “where there’s muck, there’s brass”.

The government is getting the brass by ever increasing charges for dumping waste in landfill.

Their motive is not so much profit as changing behaviour. The waste generated by our industrial society is growing at an alarming rate.

The traditional method of disposing of it hasn’t changed much since the old midden on the edge of medieval villages. Landfill still accounts for a large proportion of current waste disposal.

Taxing landfill is intended to encourage more recycling. In less than two years from now, a virtual ban on dumping waste in landfill will come into force.

The new rules on waste disposal go under the initials BMW – not a fancy motor car, but Biodegradable Municipal Waste. The mantra now driving waste management, with which you may already be familiar, is: reduce, reuse, recycle.

While these new regulations will be a matter for local councils to implement, we all need to play our part in making our way of life more sustainable. We cannot continue to turn ever more of the earth’s resources in to rubbish; our convenience lifestyle is proving more than the planet can bear.

The habit of repairing and making do when our manufactured goods go wrong has given way to the culture of the disposable society. The pressure on keeping up appearances is requiring the fashion conscious to wear a fancy party outfit only once, and then throw it away. Fast food restaurants serve their offerings on plastic plates with plastic cutlery which are only ever used once.

Disposal of waste is not something that we like to think about. Indeed it is lack of thought that leads to cotton buds, wet wipes and sanitary towels being flushed down the toilet. The easy, convenient option for getting rid of something can have damaging consequences.

Public services over the past 150 years have gradually expanded to cope with the growing demand. The unfortunate consequence is that the cost to the taxpayer has risen remorselessly. The Christie Commission recognised that this is unsustainable in the long term. While services change and adapt to carry out their role more efficiently, the better solution is to reduce demand. A large part of the increased demand stems from our lifestyle choices. We need to make better choices for the sake of the planet.