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Channel 4s Dispatches Delves Into Rubbish

12 October 2011

Channel 4's Dispatches aired last night, aiming to delve into the UK's rubbish, asking the questions: what really happens to rubbish in the UK? And is Zero Waste to landfill even possible?  

The Channel 4 show raised issues regarding local authorities and how they deal with people's rubbish - regarding collection and recycling rates - on food waste and whether recycling guides on packaging actually helped people to recycle more.

Chris Dow, managing director of Closed Loop Recycling said of the show: "Channel 4's Dispatches programme highlighted the lack of action at government level to galvanise the British consumer's desire to make a difference and work towards zero waste.

"The families in the programme embraced the opportunity for zero waste and if the industry can multiply that enthusiasm, then we can make massive increases in recycling levels. As the programme stated, the waste review has still not addressed the fantastic opportunity waste creates for the UK and EU economy, sadly the decision makers are still going round in circles on some fundamental issues of uniformity of collection and knowing where the recyclables end up."

Amongst issues raised was the government's decision to incentivise councils into reinstating weekly bin collections, posing the question to Bob Neill, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Communities and Local Government about whether this was, in fact, the best use of the money with regards to the current economic climate.

"Weekly bin collections are significant," Bob Neill responded. "For many people getting your street swept an getting your rubbish taken away in a prompt and efficient manner is the main council service.

"It's well funded and the result of the work we have been doing with Defra
over a number of months and it's based on good hard evidence on what works on the ground."

The programme highlighted some of the problems with commingling with regards to contamination and what happens to waste that has been claimed as recycled, but is then rejected because of unrecyclable material found in those bales.

"At the end of the day the individual council tax payers and the councils need to know where the recyclables end up to make sense of the whole situation and prevent illegal export of contaminated waste," Chris Dow said.

As a solution to the problem of contamination, the show appeared to be in favour of kerbside sorting and raised the issue of Campaign for Real Recycling's protests against how Defra had interpreted the European Union revised Waste Framework Directive's guidelines on collections and posed the question of why Defra would not want to follow those guidelines.

To this issue, Bob Neill commented: "I don't necessarily think that the European Union are the greatest experts on how we do bin collections in the UK. You're not going to get recycling up unless you encourage households to do the recycling in the first place. And all that happens about the types of materials you use is further down the line."

To watch the show in full CLICK HERE

Darrel Moore