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Boris Johnson gets in a stew over tea bags

Cardiff Council has hit back against London mayor Boris Johnson’s claim that the authority had been “overzealous” in banning tea bag recycling.

Giving evidence to the Treasury select committee, Johnson gave Cardiff Council as an example of where he thought the EU was having an unwanted influence over UK policy.

He said the EU Animal Byproducts Regulation 2002 had been interpreted by the authority “in such a way as to forbid people from recycling tea bags”.

He added: “Now that is a classic example, in my view, of the confluence of EU legislation with overzealous British implementation.”

The Animal By-products Directive had been brought in to help prevent the spread of infectious disease, and warned against material contaminated by meat or milk products from entering the food chain.

A council spokesperson said: “Tea bags can be put in food caddies for collection with the rest of the food waste, and we also encourage residents to put them in their compost bins.

“Mr Johnson is probably referring to measures introduced back in 2005 as a result of EU laws designed to prevent a further outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease by excluding materials which may have been in contact with meat or milk.

“Back then we collected green waste and food together. With the change in legislation we made service changes to collect the food separately.”

The council now uses high-temperature composting systems which destroy viruses and pathogens within compost material.

Committee chairman Andrew Tyrie told Johnson it was ”not true” that EU regulations had prohibited tea bag recycling.

The spat comes just days after resource minister Rory Stewart was slapped down by his department for appearing to suggest that a coffee cup tax could help prevent an estimated 2.5 billion plastic-lined cups being sent to landfill each year.


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