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Daily Mail rectifies waste reports after complaints

The Daily Mail has been compelled to remove articles on waste and recycling issues and publish corrections after a consultant complained to the press watchdog.

The Press Complaints Commission negotiated the remedial measures with the newspaper following an approach from Eunomia’s Peter Jones.

Jones contested the accuracy of an article published on 6 April 2013, which said that “millions of tonnes of household recycling was ‘dumped abroad’”.

The PCC demanded the online version of the article be removed and the paper run a correction pointing out that the figure related to household and commercial waste purchased by overseas reprocessors. The proportion of this waste that ends up in landfill is unknown. (See box below).

Jones also contested two articles from August 2013, which reported that under the EU Waste Framework Directive, local authorities would be required to issue all householders with four separate recycling bins and that weekly bin collections would be “axed”.

The Daily Mail corrected: “Whilst the Directive does enforce the separate collection of recyclates, local authorities can comply without requiring householders to use separate bins for four types of recycling, and are not barred from collecting waste weekly.”

On his blog Isonomia, Jones noted that resolving the complaints had taken significant time and resources.

“It has required lot of time-consuming analysis and drafting, eating into evenings and weekends,” he said. “The end result is gratifying: articles have been withdrawn or amended and corrections published.”

However, he pointed out that that wrong information about recycling had been widely circulated and had gained public awareness.

“The claim that recycling is dumped in landfill is one I’ve heard quoted several times by members of the public,” he said.

Nonetheless, members of the waste industry expressed support for the initiative. Philip Ward, former WRAP director of local government services, said the newspaper had been forced to “put the record straight”.

Meanwhile, communities secretary Eric Pickles has told the Daily Mail he was considering amending the Household Waste Recycling Act 2003 to set minimum service standards as a way of promoting weekly bin collections.

He also said he wanted councils to do more to publicise their waste contracts. He told the paper: “Contracts to do with refuse collections are not done on a yearly basis, they are signed for longer periods. My job is to try to ensure that when they come up for renewal that the public knows that and can pressure their local authority.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government told MRW: “This is something being looked at politically and whilst it is fair to say that all of the quotes in the Daily Mail were accurate they were given as part of a political interview, and consider what more needs to be done should a Conservative government form next year.”

Daily Mail correction

An article (6 April 2013) said that millions of tonnes of household recycling is ‘dumped abroad’. In fact, this figure relates to household and commercial waste purchased by processors abroad, of which the proportion deemed unusable and ending up in landfill is unknown. We are happy to clarify that the claim that ‘most’ recyclable material is rejected was based on a survey of the attitudes of UK processors towards the minority of recyclable material which is collected ‘commingled’, rather than separately.

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