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Last Updated: Monday, 5 December 2005, 00:36 GMT
Recyclers' rubbish dumped abroad
Householders are urged to recycle to stop waste going to landfill sites
Councils are investigating what happens to their recycled rubbish after the BBC revealed 500 tonnes had been shipped unsorted to Indonesia.

Customs at Jakarta impounded containers holding mixed up paper, cardboard, plastics and cans from UK households.

They tipped off Real Story who went and found the rubbish was clearly British and falsely described as waste paper.

Documents linked it to a company contracted to process recycling by councils in the South of England.

Monday, 5 December 2005

According to the Environment Agency, about half of the 8m tons of green bin material thrown out each year in the UK ends up overseas.

Contractors who export waste instead of processing it in the UK are not breaking any law - as long as it is properly sorted and cleaned so that foreign mills and factories can recycle it.

But the Indonesian authorities classified the 80,000 green bins worth of material seen by Real Story as hazardous waste.

After checking the containers held up at Jakarta's Tanjung Priok docks, the Real Story team went to the address given on the shipping documents as the waste's final destination.

I'll just go back to using the black bins I suppose. What's the point in recycling?
Jill Grace, Islington

It led them to a closed down Japanese restaurant on the outskirts of the city.

According to Indonesia's environment minister, the only possible consequence of such a trail was that the rubbish from England would end up dumped on his country.

The one recycling plant in Jakarta did not receive foreign rubbish and was struggling to cope with the waste produced locally.

Rachmat Witoelar told Real Story: "Somebody has taken them [the English residents who recycled] for a ride.

"It's against international law. They should be aware of that.

"They [the exporter] are trying to dump it somewhere when we are not looking."

Councils taking action

As well as British newspapers and food wrappers, the Real Story team who looked through the containers found mail addressed to residents in Essex and London.

Indonesian Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar
Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar says Indonesia has enough waste of its own
They returned some of this to the original recipients.

"It's absolutely outrageous," said Jill Grace when reunited with a TV magazine sent to her home in Islington and subsequently put in her green bin.

"I'll just go back to using the black bins I suppose. They are not being honest and truthful about the whole situation.

"What's the point? Why are we recycling?"

Islington and Essex councils said they were carrying out thorough investigations into Real Story's findings and taking action to ensure that waste sent for recycling was being properly processed.

The Environment Agency said recent national inspections of green bin material being exported showed there was a problem.

"We found something in the region of 75% of the waste containers were not satisfactory. They were not in accordance with the requirements for export and they were stopped."

Real Story: How green is your wheelie? - BBC ONE on Monday 5 December at 1930 GMT.

How green is your wheelie?
05 Dec 05 |  Real Story
5m contract for recycling firm
08 Nov 05 |  Northern Ireland
UK launches 10m recycling effort
27 Sep 04 |  Science/Nature

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