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Recyclers put off by fines and confusion

April 23, 2007 at 11:45 am

News that a man has lost his appeal against a fine for mixing up his recycling has stirred up confusion and anger amongst householders in the UK. In October 2006, journalist Michael Reeves was ordered to pay a £100 fee and £100 costs for putting paper in a bag containing cans and bottles for recycling. He must now pay an extra £350 in prosecution costs after his appeal at Swansea Crown Court was turned down.

Environmental campaigners have criticised the prosecution, concerned that it may put people off recycling. Friends of the Earth Cymru felt that while persistent offenders should be prosecuted, punishment for one-off offences could send out the wrong signals.

Members of the public have expressed dismay that they not only pay taxes to fund recycling services, but run the risk of further charges if they fall foul of rules and regulations. Members of an eBay community discussion forum talk of being ‘too scared’ to use recycling bins and complain that there is ‘no consistency’ among councils. A recent survey carried out by HIPPOWASTE™ revealed that young people in particular found it difficult to establish what could or could not be recycled.

Swansea City Council is keen to reassure residents that prosecutions like Mr Reeves’ are rare. The Local Government Association’s environment board defended local authorities working on the frontline in the fight against climate change and stressed that advice and education were key priorities.

Information on recycling a wide range of materials can be found on our Reduce, Reuse, Recycle page . You can obtain contact details for your local recycling officer and find out what your local council recycles on the Recycle Now website.

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