The Daily Mail has been savaged by the Recycling Association for linking the problem of recycling coffee cups with overall recycling performance.
In the article, the newspaper suggested that millions of coffee cups were not being recycled and this “symbolised the UK’s wasteful ways”.
Recycling Association chief executive Simon Ellin said: “The recyclability of coffee cups is undoubtedly challenging due to the nature of the material and the difficulty in separating the cups when they are consumed by the public while on the move.
“Let’s put this into context though – paper coffee cups account for less than 0.00005% by weight of the UK’s total waste production (commercial and municipal), so although ideally we should be recovering more, the impact on the environment per se is negligible.
“To then relate this to UK recycling performance generally, is a cheap shot and is counterproductive. I would argue that misrepresenting information like this has a far more negative impact on the environment than does the paper cup problem, because it disengages the public when it comes to recycling.”
He also criticised the Daily Mail for writing about a loophole that it said meant material was exported to third world countries for recycling, but ended up in landfill.
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Simon Ellin added: “The Daily Mail cited a European Loophole that allows us to export material for recycling. I would love to know what this ‘loophole’ is.
“European Transfrontier Shipment Regulations allow and assist us to compliantly export materials all over the world.
“For example, the UK only has reprocessing capacity to recycle 40% of the 8 million tonnes of paper we collect per annum; the plastics industry only has the capacity to re-process circa 25% of the materials recovered, so what a fabulous example of a circular economy is demonstrated in sending cardboard or plastics back to the countries from where it was produced in the first place on what would otherwise be an empty shipping vessel.
“To suggest that this material often then ends up in landfill is a shameful and counter-productive piece of journalism. Why would a company in the UK pay for material to be shipped half way around the world to be landfilled? Why would an importer purchase a commodity in the UK to then pay for it to be landfilled? The Daily Mail allegation contains no sense of commercial logic.”
Mark Lyndon Paper Enterprises managing director Paul Briggs added: “By focussing in on small issues such as paper cup recycling and then relating this to a series of headline grabbing misnomers the Daily Mail fails to acknowledge the massive steps the UK has made in the recycling arena in recent years.
“We may not always get all the small detail right, but the strides the UK has made to positively contribute to the circular rconomy in a relatively short space of time should be applauded.
“We are constantly evolving and improving and the services we provide in the UK make both a significant contribution to the UK’s green credentials and to the economy. I would urge Daily Mail to report all the positive messages too – this engages the general public as opposed to turning them off and therefore positively contributes to the industry we are rightly proud of.”