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Last Updated: Friday, 13 April 2007, 15:05 GMT 16:05 UK
Man loses recycle bag fine appeal
Michael Reeves in Swansea
Michael Reeves said he was 'gutted' after the decision
A man who was fined 200 after being found guilty of putting his recycling in the wrong bag has lost his appeal against his conviction.

Michael Reeves, a journalist, must also pay an extra 350 prosecution costs after the Swansea Crown Court hearing.

He said afterwards that he was "devastated, gutted and quite angry" by the decision.

At the original trial last October, Mr Reeves denied putting paper in a bag for bottles and cans.

Environmental campaigners have since criticised the prosecution, saying people should be encouraged to recycle.

Mr Reeves, who had described the case as "crazy," was given a warning notice in April 2006 when he put his bins out a day early because he was going on holiday.

To be honest, this is harder to take than the original decision itself
Michael Reeves

In June, a bag containing both paper and bottles and cans was found outside his flat in the Mount Pleasant area of the city.

In October 2006, the court heard that the letter, which was addressed to him, "contaminated" the other items put out for recycling.

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, fined him 100 and ordered him to pay 100 costs.

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

Mr Reeves, who has since moved to commute from Tredworth in Gloucester, said: "I'm devastated, gutted and quite angry really.

"To be honest, this is harder to take than the original decision itself."

He said that Gloucester council made it easier to recycle than Swansea.

"Living back in Gloucester, it's much easier - you're given a box and everything goes into that box."

'Essential'

At the appeal hearing, the court was told by Trevor Thomas, a member of Swansea's fly-tipping team, that he found the green bag containing half paper and half cans and bottles, in contravention of the rules.

The court was told that among the items was a junk mail letter addressed to Mr Reeves in "a pristine state."

Upholding the earlier magistrates' court ruling, Judge Gerald Price said that it was a highly unlikely scenario that anyone, apart from Mr Reeves, had placed the paper in the bag.

Examining the item of junk mail, the judge said the interest rate was 39% - "no wonder he put it in the bin!"

But he said it was "essential" for the recycling process that people followed the council's rules by the letter.

Mr Reeves said afterwards that he could not afford to take it any further.

In a statement, issued on Friday, Swansea Council said it wanted to "reassure residents that prosecutions of this kind are very rare.

"They are pursued only as a last resort and after very careful consideration of the facts in each individual case."





SEE ALSO
FoE criticises recycle bag fine
18 Oct 06 |  South West Wales
Recycling 'too complex' for many
13 Sep 06 |  Science/Nature

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