Filthy Liars...

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

I have just had a text message from a friend, asking if I saw the recycling programme on TV last night? "A Rubbish Service on ITV1". She said apparently our recycled waste gets shipped all the way to INDIA!

After some Googling I came up with the article below from Saturdays 'Mail Online'...

I'm sorry, I would love to sit here and write an in depth post about how I feel about this... but I can't...I'm just fuming with anger! Even more so as Leicestershire Council is amongst the 'named and shamed'... After all the effort I put in to help save this planet, I feel totally disgusted and ashamed to find my rubbish is ending up in 'My Paradise'.

I am going to have to go and think about this for a while, because something has to be done. I'm not saying I will solve this issue single handedly, over night, but I sure as hell am going to make my voice heard! If anyone has any similar experiences or ideas as to what I can do, please let me know... 

Where do these people get their morals from? 


Uncovering the great recycling lie in a trail that leads to India...
By Mark Jordan
6th September 2008

My partially blind, 94-year-old grandmother called me recently. She's a tough old bird, but that morning she was livid.

The 'bin men', for she knows nothing of 'waste technicians', had told her she wasn't recycling properly and should shape up or face a fine.

She has been robbed in her home, conned by a carer and can barely see the one bin she uses, yet now the bin enforcement officers were charging her with endangering the planet.

Stinking shame: Tons of British rubbish dumped on Indian farmland

She's not alone. Twenty thousand tickets for rubbish breaches have been issued in the past year and the Government thinks councils should be able to fine us up to £110 for 'waste receptacle' offences.

My gran's discarded soup tin could land her a bigger fine than the £80 fixed penalty for shoplifting.

I decided to do a little bin snooping of my own.

Now, you would think the people forcing us to sort our recyclables carefully would have a good idea of where they send this green gold for its rebirth. Well, ITV1's Tonight programme quizzed every council in the UK - more than 300 - and 46 told us they had no idea where their cans, paper and glass ended up.

They hand it over to a registered waste company, and much of it is legally shipped abroad for recycling. But if a council, or its contractors, has not sorted the recyclables properly, it risks being dumped.

Some 4,500 miles away in Tamil Nadu, India, environmentalist Nity Jayaraman took me to the rich farmland at the base of the beautiful Nilgiri Hills.

He then began pulling British rubbish from the soil. A Leicester newspaper, Tesco food packaging, bags from Mothercare. There was even a St George's flag.

Nity was furious. 'You're shipping out your garbage, you're shipping out your responsibility. It violates every law, right from the time it entered India,' he said.

Where were the bin police now, I wondered?

Nity explained that a nearby company was supposed to be importing British paper waste and recycling it. Instead, it buys the UK's poorly sorted waste, sifts it with dollar-a-day labour, and then dumps the unusable stuff on farmland.

According to the Environment Agency, dumping unsorted waste in poor countries is illegal. Yet here I am, staring down at a £2 Asda Indian selection pack in the soil of an Indian farm.

A farmer explained the rubbish goes 30ft deep, so we hired a JCB digger and began excavating.

Sleuth: Mark Jordan

I clambered into the pit and began pulling out mail from homes covered by Tendring, Wellingborough and Wakefield District Councils, and Leicestershire County Council.

All four councils collect intermingled recyclables, then send them to a sorting facility, which will sell them on to be recycled. All four authorities told us they worked with licensed UK contractors.

But they added they were 'concerned' by our findings and would investigate 'where appropriate'.

All these people believed this rubbish would have been recycled. Instead, it's rotting in a pit next to an Indian national park that is home to wild elephants.

My producer asked me to say something to camera. As putrid liquid leaked into my boots, I bellowed on about it being international fly-tipping on an unimaginable scale.

Nity and his investigators have uncovered ten more sites full of British and American waste.

In recent years, the Environment Agency has intercepted thousands of tons of unsorted 'green' waste heading for Asia.

One container, supposed to be full of paper, held so much organic waste that the methane build-up caused the container to explode.

From what I witnessed in India, official obsession with snooping on you, me and Grandma Mary for wheelie-bin offences seems far less effective when it comes to intercepting 20-ton containers packed with improperly sorted waste sailing from our shores.

Back home, I wanted to know how it could make financial sense to ship waste around the planet.

I met Ron Humphreys of Abitibi Bowater. He runs one of the biggest recycling paper mills in Britain. Here, your recycled paper is turned into newsprint and paper cups.

He claimed many councils and contractors fail to keep paper separate from other waste. He showed me some rejected bales in a warehouse.

We cut one open and found a lavatory seat, shoes, plastic bottles and underwear. This would bring his machinery to a halt, so the bales are rejected and sold on as unrecycled waste to UK brokers.

Ron said: 'No one in Britain can afford to start separating that, so it gets shipped abroad where there's dirt-cheap labour to sift it. What locals don't want will end up dumped.'

I had brought back a bag of mail I pulled from the Indian dump.

I knocked on the door of a Mr Geoff Moore in Essex, told him I knew he loved Sixties music and handed him a recovered CD invoice.

When I explained its 9,000 mile round-trip voyage, he seemed saddened: 'What's green in that? All of us are told to do our bit, when people in this street hear about this they'll think to themselves, "Why bother?"'

There are few of us who would argue against recycling. What is galling is that some of the councils snooping on us are failing to ensure their collections are properly sorted - by the ton-load.

Paul Bettison, chairman of the Local Government Association's environment board, admitted: 'Local authorities should be attempting to find out what happens to their waste - simply sending it to a sorting facility does not guarantee that it is going to be recycled.'

So next time you catch the man from your town hall sniffing round your recycling bag, ask him where it all goes and how well it will be sorted.

In areas where councils operate a system where everything recyclable ends up in the same bin, one in three won't have a clue.


Find this story at

Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday, Evening Standard & Metro Media Group
© 2008 Associated Newspapers Ltd


Kel said...

yeah, it really sucks...more accountability and transparency is required by the collectors; most people are trying to do the right thing, so should 'they'. its amazing to think we actually live in times where there are garbage brokers?! The garbage trail is an interesting one. My zero waste has a grea video clip of a prefecture in japan that recycles EVERYTHING. Its impressive but people there complain its to strict! ahh humans, gotta love us.

Sharon J said...

OMG! This is absolutely disgusting! I'm bloody angry too!

Our recycling bins contain cardboard, plastic and aluminium cans so I'm wondering now whether they actually do get sorted properly or dumped in places like India. I'll have to find out somehow.