Daily Mail Removes Inaccurate Recycling Stories After Complaints

21-01-14(4)picThe Mail Online has removed news on the export of recycling from its website  after a complaint was made about the accuracy of its data.

The article in question discussed the export of recycling from the UK for processing abroad and contained a number of inaccuracies concerning the quantity of household recycling exported, the amount of this which ends up in landfill, and the amount of recyclable material which rejected by processors in the UK.

The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) found this to be in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice and negotiated the publication of the following correction, and the removal of the online article:

“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.”

The inaccuracy was brought to the PCC’s attention by Mr Peter Jones, senior consultant at Eunomia and writer of the waste and resources blog Isonomia.

Peter Jones – “I hope that its readers will have been left in no doubt that 12m tonnes of household recycling are not being dumped in foreign landfill sites: now the Mail has conceded that only contamination is likely to be dumped, and the amount is ‘unknown'”

“My first complaint arose from a piece I wrote last spring dismantling an article published in the Mail on 6 April 2013,” Peter said. “I hope that its readers will have been left in no doubt that 12m tonnes of household recycling are not being dumped in foreign landfill sites: now the Mail has conceded that only contamination is likely to be dumped, and the amount is ‘unknown’.”

Peter was also concerned the Mail’s coverage of Lord de Mauley’s comments regarding the requirement under the Waste Framework Directive for various recycling streams to be collected separately.

Screen shot from the Mail Online Story
Screen shot from the Mail Online Story

“For some reason, the Mail decided that this meant householders would need at least five bins, one for residual and one for each recycling stream, and that weekly residual waste collections had to stop,” Peter said.

While Peter’s complaint was ongoing, the Mail repeated these claims on 16 October and the story was also picked up by the Telegraph – which Peter also complained to through the PCC, negotiating corrections – and the Express, which has withdrawn from the PCC, and decided not to take action when he complained to them directly.

“Now the Mail has agreed that its interpretation of the law was wrong.”

Peter says that with information provided to the public being “so poor” it is hardly surprising if public perceptions are skewed.

“The most important result my complaints could have is to change the way recycling issues are handled in the press. Perhaps I’m being over-optimistic, but I detect some a slight shift in the Mail’s stance.”

CIWM Journal Online covered the Daily Mail’s story at the time, reporting that Defra had firmly refuted the claims.

For Peter’s blog documenting his complaints CLICK HERE

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