Defra rubbishes Daily Mail story on illegal export of waste and recycling


Claims by the Daily Mail that millions of tonnes of waste has been illegally exported abroad to be sent to landfill, have been rubbished by Defra.

In a story on its front page on Saturday, the Daily Mail had a headline “The great recycling con trick”.


The story said that millions of tonnes of waste was being exported to countries such as China, India and Indonesia for recycling, but was then being dumped in landfill.

In a statement on its website, Defra described the story as a “myth” and said: “This is not true. The vast majority of the millions of tonnes of waste that is legally exported for recycling is dealt with properly and recycled into other products.

“It is absolutely illegal to export household waste from the UK for dumping. Anyone caught illegally exporting materials that are not properly sorted will be prosecuted. Only sorted materials such as metals, paper, card, glass or plastic that can be reused again can legally be exported.

“We are clamping down on people illegally exporting waste and giving enforcement agencies the necessary powers to combat illegal activity. Under international law, importing countries will also refuse entry to illegal shipments of waste.

“Trade in materials for recycling is a global market. We would like to see our own recycling industry grow so that we can grasp this opportunity with both hands to benefit our own economy.”

In a comment under the story on the Daily Mail website, Bolton Brothers from Ipswich defended the recycling industry. Its comment said: “Don’t believe this nonsense. Recyclables are a valuable raw material and are traded worldwide. “The recycling industry is a very professional industry and without exports to other countries there would be no use for the recyclables which every householder separates here in the UK.

“We export more recyclables than what we can handle in the UK simply because members of the public are very good and responsible at recycling their waste.

“I have been in the recycling industry for 24 years and I know the real truth of what happens to your recyclables. Do you really believe that recyclers pay hundreds of pounds per tonne to purchase this material from councils, pay thousands of pounds to ship it around the world, receive a higher payment from the paper mills and reprocessors than what we purchased it for from the councils and then for some mad reason dump it in the ground?”