22 MARCH 1940, Page 20

APATHY AND WASTE SIR,—The letter signed " Salvo " in

your issue of March 8th is a typical reflection of the present official attitude to this subject. I must apologise if my estimate of the tonnage of valuable material which is thrown away was not exact, but I am really not so much concerned with the exactitude of such large estimates as with the urgent need that the total should be quickly and efficiently dealt with. When, however, " Salvo " says that the task, thus thoroughly performed, is neither enormous nor highly technical, nor expensive to start, I beg to state that from the point of view of the average local councillor (outside the large cities and county boroughs), who is responsible, I believe, for some 6o per cent. of the popula- tion, the task is aptly described by those expressions.

Taking waste paper alone as an instance, this is classified into thirty-eight different grades, and the price ranges from IIS. per cwt. to 3s. 3d. But if the paper is not technically graded the seller, from actual experience recently gained, is likely to get less than the lowest price, regardless of what percentage of paper belonging to the highest grades there may be in the stock sold.

As regards capital expenditure, " Salvo " says: "The vaunted German schemes are financed from the Winter Help Fund." Exactly. And if the German schemes (which have been successful over a number of years—even if " vaunted ") have to be financed, how are we to set up our own new machinery and get it in motion without similar outlay?

I am, at any rate, delighted to hear from " Salvo " that the Salvage Department have held conferences with representa- tives of local authorities and have provided honorary district advisers to give them guidance and the information they so badly need. All I can say is that the local authority of which I am a humble councillor have received no invitation to any such conference, and if the advice of our nearest district adviser, who lives in a far-distant city, is on a par with that we have received from other officials, including even the Controller of Salvage himself, to the effect that " house- wives should leave their clean paper beside the dustbin to be collected by the dustman," it will not be very helpful for obvious and practical reasons. In the meantime the contrac- tors' lorries are fully occupied with their legitimate duty of transporting " waste " from the dustbin to the dump, in accordance with the terms of their contracts, and local autho- rities continue to be bludgeoned and left to their own devices.