Essex waste ends up in India

A COUNCIL has defended its recycling record after it emerged recyclable waste ended up being buried in India.

Roddy Ashworth

A COUNCIL has defended its recycling record after it emerged recyclable waste ended up being buried in India.

Tendring District Council was one of a number of local authorities whose reclaimable rubbish finished up not being recycled in the UK but instead shipped raw overseas.

Last night the council was identified in ITV's Tonight programme after a receipt for CDs placed in a bin in Walton-on-the-Naze was discovered on a large rubbish tip in Tamil Nadu, southern India.

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The programme found British waste, including children's report cards and a St George's flag, buried in farmland.

The rubbish also included bags of Walkers crisps, Sainsbury's apple juice, Tesco packaging, plastic bags from Mothercare and newspapers apparently from a range of councils across the UK.

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Geoff Moore, from Walton, who had put his receipt out for recycling, said: “If it's being dumped in India instead of dumped here, what's the reason?

“Why, what is green in that?

“Do the council know that is what is happening to it? Do they care that is what is happening to it?”

Yesterday, however, Tendring District Council leader David Lines said that after being contacted by the programme makers some weeks ago, officers had investigated the council's practices and found them to be both legally and morally satisfactory.

He explained that the council used a contractor to collect the rubbish that in turn delivered it to a further contractor, licensed by the Environment Agency, which was then responsible for passing it on to recycling firms.

“We can't be responsible for the waste after that. It's the Environment Agency's job to inspect the rest of the chain, as it gives the licenses, not us.

“Otherwise what is the point of the Environment Agency? A lot of councils follow the same practices we do and we have every faith in the contractor we are responsible for.”

Mr Lines added that the contractor used by the council was checked at least twice a year to make sure the material was being dealt with correctly.

Yesterday the Local Government Association (LGA) said a crackdown was needed on firms contracted by councils who refuse to reveal where they send the waste.

Paul Bettison, Chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA) Environment Board, said: “It is vital that people have confidence in recycling so we can encourage them to go that extra mile and do more.

“Council leaders also need to build trust in the system and ensure they have as much information as possible about where materials are sent to.

“Although the majority will already have these steps in place, it is important all residents have this assurance.”

Recycling rates have risen from 7% in 1997 to 34%.

But the LGA said Britain continues to throw more rubbish into landfill sites than any other country in the European Union and must increase recycling rates to avoid taxes and EU fines.

The Environment Agency said it asked the programme to share its findings and would take action if appropriate. It said its chairman Lord Smith would be responding to a letter from the LGA in due course.

The Tonight programme found 46 local authorities have no idea what happens to their waste after it is sent to contracted sorting facilities.

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