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Dispatches programme puts spotlight on waste industry

Illegal waste activity and allegations of landfilling waste for recycling was highlighted for the nation by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme last week.

Reporter Simon Barnes went undercover to expose blasé attitudes to the disposal of hazardous waste, fly-tipping and illegal landfill sites, and suggested Irish waste management company Wastebeater landfilled waste for recycling.


Barnes was told by waste transfer station staff to throw an old fridge “outside somewhere at night”. And as a Wastebeater employee, where he found evidence of recycled waste being shredded before being sent to landfill, he found workers lacked belief in the system: “Recycle my arse,” said one.

Wastebeater defended its operations, saying the programme was an “extremely inaccurate portrayal of its business practices” and that it made “every effort to recover as much material for recycling”.


Seeking to reassure the public that recycling was worthwhile, Waste and Resources Action Programme chief executive Jennie Price said there were “very real environmental benefits” from recycling.


While waste management company Viridor “wholly welcomed” the focus on flytipping and large scale illegal activities. But thought the section on Wastebeater “seemed to reflect the peculiarities of that region” and served to emphasise the need for “good segregation systems at the point of collection and clear communication regarding service provision.”

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