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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 October 2006, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
FoE criticises recycle bag fine
Michael Reeves
Michael Reeves was fined 200 by magistrates
Environmental campaigners have criticised the prosecution of a man for the wrong rubbish in a recycling bag.

Magistrates fined Swansea journalist Michael Reeves 200 after finding him guilty of putting paper in a recycling sack for bottles and cans.

The 28-year-old denied putting an item of junk mail in the bag.

Julian Rosser, from Friends of the Earth (FoE), said: "I think what we need to do in recycling at the moment is to encourage people to recycle."

He added: "Local authorities need to be putting in good schemes and publicising them well to people so that more and more people are recycling.

We don't want to create the idea that recycling is difficult - recycling is not difficult
Environmentalist Howie Watkins

"It seems very much that prosecuting somebody for what appears to be a little slip is not going to help that and is going to put people off recycling and that's bad news."

Environmentalist Howie Watkins said he sympathised with Mr Reeves and Swansea Council, but warned that local authorities should not make recycling appear too complex.

He said: "[The authorities] have developed an infrastructure to allow us to recycle and as part of that there's an element of responsibility on everybody to separate their waste, so it gets recycled in the proper manner.

"But I suppose the other side of the coin in all of this is that we don't want to create the idea that recycling is difficult - recycling is not difficult, it's quite a simple process."

Strict rules

Mr Reeves, a sports writer with the city's Evening Post, was served with a warning notice in April this year when he put his bins out a day early because he was going on holiday.

Then in June a green recycling bag was found outside his ground floor flat in the Mount Pleasant area of the city containing both paper and bottles and cans.

The court heard on Tuesday that the letter, which was addressed to him, "contaminated" the other items put out for recycling.

I have not recycled since I received the summons
Michael Reeves/CPS:NAME>

Magistrates in the city were told under the Environmental Protection Act, councils could impose strict rules on their refuse collection services.

They found him guilty and fined him 100 and ordered him to pay 100 costs.

After the hearing, Mr Reeves described the case as "crazy".

"I don't believe they proved beyond reasonable doubt that I put the paper in the bag - I did not," he said.

"I have not recycled since I received the summons.

"People are not going to recycle if they end up in court and it costs them 200."

Swansea Council said it was increasing efforts to educate people about recycling and the rules.

"Legal action is the last resort and in Mr Reeve's case he failed to comply with an enforcement notice drawing his attention to the existing recycling arrangements," said a spokesman.

Recycling 'too complex' for many
13 Sep 06 |  Science/Nature

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