Recycling in this country is one of our most recent success stories. In 2000, the recycling rate was only 10.3% of our municipal waste. But in 2005/06 we celebrated a 27% recycling rate in the UK.
This was largely down to the hard work and creativity of the vast majority of people in the recycling and waste management sector to encourage the general public to recycle its waste.
Recycling is also fast becoming an excellent way of mitigating the damage we are causing through climate change. The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) reports that 10-15 million tonnes of annual CO² equivalent savings were made in 2005/06 through UK recycling activity.
However, there is still a long way to go before we match the recycling rates of our partners in many European countries.
Yet the sustained attack on the recycling sector by the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday is making these efforts all the more difficult.
For example, on Friday 5th January 2007, the Daily Mail front page effectively blamed fortnightly recycling and rubbish collections for bringing a large rise in rat numbers in its headline, standfirst and introduction.
Yet the same article goes on to explain that the report by the National Pest Technicians Association highlights six factors that have contributed. These were fly-tipping, litter and discarded fast food containers, charging by councils for pest control callouts, derelict property, private water companies that do not co-operate with councils and householders who put out too much food for birds.
The actual report says Results from any survey findings need interpretation and whilst it is not the intention of the NPTA to point the finger at any one reason or to any one industry for the increase in the Brown Rat population we feel able through the experiences of our members and that of local authority officers, to indicate again several key factors that are playing a vital part.
I suggest that the tone of the 5th January article points the finger squarely at the recycling and waste management sector, while the report suggests fortnightly collections may only be a part of the problem.
Indeed, to quote the report on private water companies: Their refusal time after time to undertake or financially support pro-active treatments is steadily causing serious concern because of its knock-on effect against the publics health.
Or: More local authorities are reporting that the close association between the overfeeding of wild birds is creating a ready source of rat food.
Yet, I see no criticism in this article of the private water companies or householders who overfeed wild birds.
I accept that recycling activities may have contributed, but I would want more evidence than just one report to ratify this statement. And I am sure that local authorities and waste management companies always consider public health before introducing any scheme. Like any fast growing industry, there are always teething problems with anything new and I am sure people in this sector are working very hard to overcome them.
I ask that you consider the benefits recycling is bringing to this country before continuing the