A damning investigation into UK recycling by ITVs Tonight programme (September 8) has found commingled waste dumped in India.
The material, collected by four UK local authorities, was uncovered in a hidden dump near a national park in the state of Tamil Nadu.
Tonights reporter Mark Jordon found mixed waste including British newspapers, Tesco food packaging and Mothercare plastic bags. He tracked the waste back to Tendring, Wellingborough and Wakefield District Councils, and Leicestershire County Council. These councils use UK contractors and said that they were concerned by the findings and would investigate further.
A Tonight survey found that 35% of local authorities could not give a name and address for the company which processed their recyclates.
The Indian fly-tipping" findings were also shown to the Environment Agency, which said it would investigate and take action if appropriate. The EA also said that the majority of the 12 to 14 million tonnes of waste exported a year to be recycled in third world countries are legal.
Head of waste Liz Parkes said: We don't believe containers of mixed waste are going out now. Having said that there is no room for complacency. If we want to recycle more then we are really dependent on these international markets and it's incumbent on all of us to make sure that what we are throwing away and then what is subsequently exported is of the right standard and is wanted by the receiving countries, otherwise we set back UK recycling many, many decades."
Last week the Local Government Association showed its concern about export transparency when it sent a letter to councils calling for a crackdown on irresponsible firms which hide behind commercial confidentiality and refuse to reveal the destination of their recycled material (See MRW story).
Image: A UK newspaper uncovered at a hidden dump in Tamil Nadu, India.