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Defra strikes back over Daily Mail ‘recycling con’ story

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Those recycling old computers and other materials with Collect and Recycle ( may be interested to read of a publicity storm that has brewed over the supposed illegal export and sending to landfill of millions of tonnes of waste, as reported recently by the Daily Mail.

The claims have now been described as “myth” by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), in response to the newspaper’s front page headline on Saturday 6th April, “Recycling: The Great Con Trick”. The ensuing article claimed that most of the recyclable waste being shipped to countries including India, China and Indonesia was disposed of in landfill after being rejected by reprocessors.

In news that may have alarmed many of those with an interest in services like computer, aluminium, cardboard or copper recycling, the newspaper added that it was ‘compulsory recycling schemes’ set up so that the Waste Framework Directive’s requirements could be met, rather than insufficient landfill space in the UK, that was to blame for the large amount that was disposed abroad.

However, Defra described the allegations as “untrue”, adding that “the vast majority of the millions of tonnes of waste that is legally exported for recycling is dealt with properly and recycled into other products.” In a statement on its website, it described the exporting of household waste from the UK for dumping as “absolutely illegal”, and said that the illegal export of improperly sorted materials was a prosecutable offence.

Defra added that the only materials that could be legally exported were “sorted materials such as metals, paper, card, glass or plastic that can be reused again”. It went on to state that it was presently working on updating the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations, which make clear the requirements for UK agencies’ enforcement of EU waste shipment regulations.

The statement continued:  “We are clamping down on people illegally exporting waste and giving enforcement agencies the necessary powers to combat illegal activity. Under international law, importing countries will also refuse entry to illegal shipments of waste.”

Adding that the materials recycling trade was a “global market”, the Department also indicated its wish for the growth of the UK’s recycling industry, which would present an “opportunity” to be grasped “with both hands” to the British economy’s benefit.

The Daily Mail’s allegations have also been refuted by those involved in services like aluminium recycling, who have stated that it would make little economic sense for a company to export waste abroad so that it could be buried in landfill.

With services ranging from WEEE disposal to cardboard recycling, here at Collect and Recycle (, we offer a comprehensive and efficient recycling service that is also fully compliant with the law at all times. We serve a wide range of businesses and organisations across the United Kingdom, and ensure that your waste items are safely, securely and lawfully disposed of and destroyed.

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