THE RECYCLING ASSOCIATION ATTACKS THE DAILY MAIL, MAIL ONLINE PAPER CUP RECYCLING EDITORIAL

Posted 29/03/2016

THE RECYCLING ASSOCIATION ATTACKS THE DAILY MAIL, MAIL ONLINE PAPER CUP RECYCLING EDITORIAL – 16/02/2016 





The Daily Mail has today launched an attack on the UK’s overall recycling performance based on a perceived problem with recycling coffee cups. The editorial slant puts the onus on, and relates to, widespread confusion, with some councils providing source separated bins and others providing co-mingling facilities for the public to use at their homes. Yet clearly by their very nature, very few paper coffee cups end up in municipal waste as the coffee is usually consumed whilst on the move and the cups end up in commercial waste sources. Chief Executive, Simon Ellin explains – “the recyclability of coffee cups is undoubtedly challenging due to the nature of the material and the difficulty in separating the cups when they are consumed by the public whilst on the move. Let’s put this into context though – paper coffee cups account for less than 0.00005% by weight of the UK’s total waste production (commercial and municipal), so although ideally we should be recovering more, the impact on the environment per se is negligible. To then relate this to UK recycling performance generally, is a cheap shot and is counterproductive. I would argue that misrepresenting information like this has a far more negative impact on the environment than does the paper cup problem, because it disengages the public when it comes to recycling.” The UK recycling industry is a fantastic success story and year on year we have recovered and recycled more and more materials contributing to the Circular Economy whilst creating jobs and thus a multi-billion pound industry to support UK PLC.

 This should be celebrated and if the Daily Mail were to report this in a positive light, it would have a far better impact on our environment than their persistent negative reporting. Perhaps the Daily Mail should have reported the work being coordinated by WRAP and supported by cross-industry organisations to stream-line municipal recycling collection systems as recommended by Recycling Minister Rory Stewart. Another example of how the industry is reacting and striving year on year to improve performance. Sure, we can always improve and evolve, and paper cups are a case in point. Yet the Daily Mail article fails to properly address the positive steps that are being taken with the fact that the James Cropper papermaking group have invested £5 million into the technology to recover and recycle paper coffee cups and we know that waste management companies in the UK are talking to the coffee cup producers to find solutions for their effective recovery. We have made great strides in identifying a small problem and finding solutions to it. Mr Ellin also expressed bewilderment and anger at the way the Daily Mail reports the role of export markets in handling the country’s recyclables “The Daily Mail cite a European Loophole that allows us to export material for recycling. I would love to know what this ‘loophole’ is.

 European Transfrontier Shipment Regulations allow and assist us to compliantly export materials all over the world. For example, the UK only has reprocessing capacity to recycle 40% of the 8 million tonnes of paper we collect per annum; the plastics industry only has the capacity to re-process circa 25% of the materials recovered, so what a fabulous example of a circular economy is demonstrated in sending cardboard or plastics back to the countries from where it was produced in the first place on what would otherwise be an empty shipping vessel. To suggest that this material often then ends up in landfill is a shameful and counter-productive piece of journalism. Why would a company in the UK pay for material to be shipped half way around the world to be landfilled? Why would an importer purchase a commodity in the UK to then pay for it to be landfilled? The Daily Mail allegation contains no sense of commercial logic. Recycling Association Director, Paul Briggs whom is Managing Director of Mark Lyndon UK Ltd, the UK exclusive supplier to Chinese cardboard manufacturing giant, Lee and Man adds weight to the discussion. He says “By focussing in on small issues such as paper cup recycling and then relating this to a series of headline grabbing misnomers the Daily Mail fails to acknowledge the massive steps the UK has made in the recycling arena in recent years. We may not always get all the small detail right, but the strides the UK has made to positively contribute to the Circular Economy in a relatively short space of time should be applauded. We are constantly evolving and improving and the services we provide in the UK make both a significant contribution to the UK’s green credentials and to the economy. I would urge Daily Mail to report all the positive messages too – this engages the general public as opposed to turning them off and therefore positively contributes to the industry we are rightly proud of.” 

To requote the Daily Mail’s own finishing sound bite – “What do you think of the Daily Mail article on Coffee Cups? – There’s only one honest answer. Rubbish!” 

Simon Ellin 16th March 2016

by Reuben Bolton