Global trade in recycling
Scotland is connected to the wider world by what it discards in a number of interesting ways. For example, a Clyde-built ship is likely to find its way to the Bay of Bengal to be dismantled.
Another example is the EU-led UK Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations that are an attempt to ensure the safe disposal of electrical waste. Research has found that this has led to concerns about the market for electrical waste in majority world countries created in part by the legislation. Hand-sorting of potentially hazardous electrical waste by some of the poorest people(s) in the world remains a problem for human and environmental health in the majority world.
Our waste connects us with the world. One of the most interesting examples is paper. Recycled paper from Scotland often finds itself baled and transported to China. Here it is made into packaging, packaging that wraps many of the consumer goods that we purchase in the shops in this country.
The global trade in recycled paper is linked to the demand for goods. The collapse of various banks and credit markets in autumn 2008 led to decreased consumer confidence. Reduced consumer demand leads to less production, fewer products. Fewer products means less packaging - less packaging means less demand for recycled paper.
Many of us now feel quite detached from the systems of food production that sustain our lives. Although many other factors affect what we actually eat, just like any other animal we have to ingest food to maintain body function and to develop and grow. It is one of our most basic needs.
It probably contains some more recognisably processed food:
• ready to eat macaroni cheese;
• ice cream or frozen beef stroganoff;
• biscuits and cakes;
• treats like confectionery.
It probably also contains some products that have been processed a little (but you might think of as being quite natural):
• cold meats, smoked herring, yoghurt and cheeses;
• bread, pasta or milk (which may even be soya);
• pickled onions or beetroot, dried fruit or fruit juices.
It probably contains some relatively unprocessed products, for example:
• meat, fish and dairy;
• grains and pulses (lentils and barley for soup, or rice);
• fruit and vegetables.
In Scotland most people do not purchase or consume food simply for maintenance and/or growth. Eating is not simply about survival, ‘food cultures’ have developed.
That is, particular peoples, in particular places have developed particular styles of food preparation that relate to the food resources around them; olive oil around the Mediterranean Sea, maize in Africa and porridge in Scotland. Today, of course, these cuisines are no longer rooted in particular geographical locales and one can eat their way round the world within larger towns and cities. Of course, the food culture(s) we are brought up with, our socio-economic status and even where we live affects both our choice of food, and the choices that are available to us.
A short history of fishing in Scotland
When we think about fishing in Scotland, we tend to think of herring, the ‘Silver Darlings’, and the herring boom of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. However, Scotland had a fairly established fishing industry during the medieval period (Coull, 2001a). The centre of that fledgling industry was centred around the Firth of Forth and the Clyde.
The Dutch dominated the herring industry in the 1600s using large vessels that cured and processed the catch on board. Attempts to replicate the Dutch model in Scotland foundered. However, as the shoals of herring were fairly close to shore, the Scottish model became one where small open boats would land the catch and it was then processed onshore. Even as boat sizes increased through the 19th century, the practice of onshore processing continued.
The migration patterns of the herring dictated the position of the curing stations, and the East Coast (access to the North Sea), North Scotland, the Shetlands and the Western Isles became increasingly important in the 19th century.
Coull (2001b) notes that as the profitability of fishing dwindled so the focus of the industry moved to more remote and marginal ports. Thus today the majority of the UK’s fishing fleet is now based in the north-east of Scotland.
While we might think about over-fishing and dwindling catches as a contemporary problem, the ecological effects of the intensive exploitation of marine resources has been recognised for some time.
For example, in 1902 the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) - actually the countries around the North Sea - was set up to monitor stocks and catches and to make conservation recommendations.
The effects of larger boats on local fisheries were also being recognised. Perring’s (2001) history of fishing on Fair Isle notes that by 1906 the Shetland Times was beginning to carry stories about the impact of trawlers on the Shetland fishery.
However, it was only after WWII that any regulations were put in place. These mainly related to mesh size (Coull, 2001b). After Britain joined the Common Market (later the EU) at the beginning of 1973 it became a member of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).