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Tag ‘recycling’

Rubbish claims in The Daily Mail

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Daily Mail claims that EU regulations will force householders to use 5 bins for recycling are complete rubbish. What’s worse is that this is recycled rubbish as the Daily Mail ran with the same type of scare story in September 2011 when they incorrectly claimed the EU was foisting 9 bins on householders.

NINE bins for every home as EU moves to control council rubbish collections

On Friday August 16th the Daily Mail published another article reporting that due to European recycling regulations every home “must be made to separate its rubbish into at least five bins”. Had the Daily Mail picked up the phone to this office they would have learned that under the relevant regulation there is no stipulation regarding the number of bins and indeed that it is at the discretion of each member state as to how they organise the separation of household waste. This is devolved even further as bin systems are often left to local and regional authorities depending on the facilities they have at their disposal.

For example, many people in the UK will be familiar with 3 bin system as widely used throughout London and other cities, in which there is a (1) food waste bin, (2) a recyclables bin (paper, plastic, metal, glass) and (3) a general waste bin for everything else. This system fulfils the criteria without the need for 5 or 9 bins as the main recycling bin already takes 4 different types of key recyclables.

Frequency of bin collection has nothing to do with the regulation as again this is at the discretion of the member state and its local authorities.

For further information about the recycling of municipal waste please visit the EC waste policy website and for an overview of municipal waste management in European countries please click this link.

Tea bags banned from being recycled

Friday, January 7th, 2005

Tea bag ban over foot-and-mouth (BBC News Online, 7 January 2005)
Householders have been told not to throw tea bags in waste meant for compost because it is a foot-and-mouth risk. Cardiff council said European regulations meant tea bags or vegetable peelings could not go in bins used to collect “green” waste. The rules, which affect all local councils, say kitchen waste is a danger because it may have been in contact with meat. The bins are composted and sold to the public. Until now, users have been able to include material such as coffee filters and vegetable peelings. But the authority is set to enforce EU laws designed to prevent a further outbreak of foot-and-mouth by excluding materials which may have been in contact with meat and milk…

Under EU law the UK is fully entitled, but not obliged, to impose stringent standards on the composting of household catering waste. Following recent animal disease catastrophes, new EU rules are now in place to better control the processing and disposal of animal by-products – a major step forward in attempts to prevent another foot-and-mouth or BSE crisis. Whilst household catering waste – including teabags – falls within the scope of the EU Animal By-Products Regulation 2002, national rules may still be applied to its composting. It is also up to member states to ensure they have the treatment facilities in place to enforce their own standards.

Sex toys must be handed in

Wednesday, February 4th, 2004

Shake ‘n back – EU tells women to hand in worn-out sex toys (The Sun, 04 February 2004, page 22)
Red-faced women will have to hand in their clapped-out sex toys under a new EU law. They must take back old vibrators for recycling before they can buy a new one.

Under the Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment directives member states must ensure that, as from 13 August 2005, final owners of such goods may return their products to the retailer for recycling at no cost. There is no requirement for anyone to hand in old electrical goods before being allowed to purchase new ones, merely that they should be able to do so free of charge if they so wish.

EU law to create ‘Electrical mountain’

Sunday, March 3rd, 2002

If you throw away those old musical socks the kids gave you last Christmas you face a hefty fine under a planned new EU rule. An army of dustbin detectives will make sure that anything with an electrical circuit – which includes novelty socks and singing birthday cards – doesn’t get tossed out with the rubbish. … It is hoped the barmy EU rule – … – will stop old mobiles, computers, tools, hairdryers and even light bulbs and nasal hair removers being buried at dumps.
(Sunday People, 3 March 2002, p 12)

Householders face fines for throwing away unwanted electrical goods under an EU law passed yesterday.
(Daily Mail, 11 April 2002, p 33)

Local authorities could face “electronic mountains” of old washing machines, computers, toasters and clocks under an ultra-green recycling law passed by the European Parliament yesterday.
(The Daily Telegraph, 11 April 2002, p 15)


Electrical products account for four per cent of the total waste disposed of within the EU and constitute the fastest growing category of waste. At the moment more than 90% of these products are disposed of in landfills or incinerators without any pre-treatment. This process is not only harmful to the environment but incredibly wasteful because their components could be recycled into valuable resources.

The proposed directive places responsibility for the proper recycling and re-treatment of waste electrical and electronic equipment on producers. This provides a clear incentive for these producers to design more environmentally friendly products in the future. To minimise the impact of ‘historical waste’ on producers i.e. waste from products already on the market before the directive comes into force, this financing principle will be delayed for 5 years. Furthermore the deadline for Member States to implement the directive is 2006 giving more than sufficient preparation time for affected companies to take the necessary steps.

Since its inception EU environmental policy has always been based on the polluter-pays principle. The scenario whereby individual consumers are fined for disposing of ‘anything with an electrical circuit’ is highly unlikely. Under the directive Member States will have to organise the collection of waste electrical goods from private households, which will then be transferred to the producers. Alternatively consumers themselves can return the goods to the producer free of charge.

Vintage cars to be forcibly removed from the road

Saturday, June 12th, 1999

A law that was originally designed to deal with abandoned motors could lead to lovingly part-restored MGs and what-have-you being removed forcibly from driveways as junk….
(The Express, page 23, 12 June 1999)

For environmental reasons, the End of Life Vehicle legislation will make provision for the recycling of car parts and unwanted cars. Vehicles will, of course, only be scrapped if owners explicitly wanted that.

Euro ban on food waste means swans cannot be fed

Sunday, February 20th, 1994

Acts of kindness such as feeding stale bread to swans, and bakers and other industries giving leftovers to wildlife charities or to the homeless, have been banned by an EC Directive which goes on to stipulate that those giving and those receiving must possess a licence as well. Adding insult to injury, these licences cost approximately £2,000 each. (The Observer, 20 February 1994)

The EC has not done any such thing. If this situation has resulted from anything it could be the UK’s 1990 Environmental Protection Act.

Elements of this Act implement EC legislation as agreed by national ministers. The relevant EC Directive deals with the disposal of waste (*), and aims to protect the environment and the health of EC citizens against the harmful effects that can be caused by the collection, transport, treatment, storage and tipping of waste. It is recognised that central to improving the efficiency of the management of this waste is the need to be able to come to a common definition of waste, marking out those products suitable for recycling and re-using, and those others which need to be disposed of in a manner appropriate to ensuring a high level of protection of the environment. The Commission has published a list of products which it feels fulfil these criteria (**).

However, Directives are drafted in a general way so that each Member State is able to put them into its own national body of law according to its own traditions and respective of its own needs and circumstances, so long as the minimum requirements of the Directive are respected. This is the essence of subsidiarity. It is the European Commission’s job to make sure that the Directive’s principles are adhered to. Should any Government wish to add to a Directive, that is their business.

In this case the Waste Disposal Directive does not define bread or products past their sell-by-date that can be eaten by humans or by animals as “waste” – it only talks of materials “unsuitable for consumption or processing”. These kinds of details are the responsibility of the UK Government, as is the question of licences and registration forms, and the level of fine to be imposed..

(*) – Directive 75/442, amended by the directive 91/156. (**) – Commission Decision 3/94.

EC in the UK

Check the EC Representation in the UK website

Please note that all statements in all entries were correct on the date of publication given. However, older archived posts are not systematically updated in the light of later developments, for example changes to EU law.

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