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Weeknotes 2022.01

Inspired by Jonathan Rothwell, here are a few things I’ve been thinking about this week. This may turn out to be one of those things that never appears again, or may turn out to be a regular thing.

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations mean, in broad terms, that anyone selling electronic goods has to pay for environmentally friendly disposal at the end of the product’s life. My top tip is to take any electrical recycling to Currys, as they accept all of it without question and without purchase, and it’s generally less hassle than trying to get to a council recycling site.

The practical implementation of WEEE regulations isn’t perfect, and a lot of equipment still ends up in landfill. However, it is a reasonable baseline standard of the sort of environmental responsibility we should expect: you produce it, you fund safe disposal of it.

It seems strange to me that we don’t have similar regulations for product packaging. Why, for example, can food manufacturers get away with selling products in non-recyclable single-portion packing and not have to fund safe disposal? How is it societally acceptable to sell stuff with the expectation that it will be used for a few days, then buried underground for thousands of years?

As a public health doctor, I’m as much an advocate for the value of vaccination as anyone. Yet, it’s hard not to think that we’ve lost any sense of subtlety and nuance in discussion of anything COVID-19 vaccine-related.

Asking sports stars to publicly disclose their medical history to compete in a tournament is uncomfortable. There is reasonable uncertainty about whether an unvaccinated doctor is better or worse than no doctor. Mandating vaccination inevitably hands a megaphone to those choosing to resist, with predictable negative consequences.

The balance between personal choice and public protection will always be delicate and ethically complex, even moreso in countries with tax-funded healthcare. Balancing those risks is basically my professional role, every day, across myriad health threats (though I’ve no real say on COVID-19 measures).

None of this is black and white; except the fact that almost everyone will benefit from a course of COVID-19 vaccination.

My car insurance was due for renewal just after Christmas, and I moved to a new provider who promised to beat my renewal quote and to provide an Amazon voucher on top. I automatically assumed that the voucher was a workaround to the new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules which prevent people who are renewing policies being charged more than existing customers.

I expected that January would see a slew of voucher offers for people switching providers. When this didn’t happen, I investigated further. It turns out that I am entirely wrong: the FCA rules require insurers to include incentives for new customers in their calculations.

This post was filed under: Weeknotes.

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