Jeremy Irons talks rubbish

2013-03-07 22:22
Libyans living in Greece rip posters of Muammar Gaddafi during a protest inside Libya's consulate in Athens. (Petros Giannakouris, AP)

Libyans living in Greece rip posters of Muammar Gaddafi during a protest inside Libya's consulate in Athens. (Petros Giannakouris, AP)

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Brussels - British actor Jeremy Irons brought a rare touch of glamour to the European Union's headquarters in Brussels on Thursday to talk about an issue close to his heart: Trash disposal.

"I refuse to call it waste. 'Waste' is a verb, it is what we do. We are wasting our resources," he said.

His appearance at the European Commission, the bloc's executive, was in support of a drive to find ways of reducing the mountains of plastic rubbish generated annually, much of which ends up in the world's oceans.

"What I've tried to do is glamorize trash," Irons said, conceding that it was not an issue that won many votes.

Irons dismissed the tendency to shelve recycling as a matter to be dealt with after resolving more pressing issues, such as the economic crisis.

He said it didn't take much effort for people to separate their rubbish, adding, "It doesn't cost me anything to put out my separate bins and I get rather a pleasure out of it."

The actor said: "We can make money out of recycling," adding that it also generated jobs.

He referred to the €12m that Ireland had made by introducing a 15-cent charge on plastic bags, which he said had also reduced the use of new bags by 92%.

Irons said that by contrast his country, Britain, was doing "spectacularly little" on recycling, failing for example to tax plastic bags - "a symbol of waste".

He said disorganization and vested interests - specifically those of the companies earning money off rubbish disposal and incineration - stood in the way of progress towards better trash management.

Ultimately, however, Irons said it was up to individuals to bring about change - by refusing to buy plastic water bottles, reusing and repairing old goods or by composting, as he did.

"I'm just a bloke," the actor said. "There are a lot of blokes and women around in the world," adding that it was their behaviour that would help bring about change.

"Politicians will therefore, in their normal fashion, be able to follow the current mood," he added.

Last year, Irons produced and featured in a documentary film, Trashed, highlighting the issue of rubbish disposal and the need for more recycling.

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