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The Local Government Association has admitted that millions of tons of rubbish carefully sorted into recycling bins by householders may never actually be recycled. Many of the council bosses who impose compulsory recycling regimes on their residents have no idea what happens to the refuse after the dustcarts have collected it - they simply hand it over to contractors who never reveal where it goes and how it is disposed of.
The admission confirmed longstanding suspicions of critics, and brought protests from campaigners and pressure groups who have opposed the spread of fortnightly rubbish collections in the name of enforcing recycling and saving the environment.
Doretta Cocks, of the Campaign for Weekly Waste Collection, said "This is a dreadful admission. People believe that whatever they put in their recycling bins is recycled - but in reality the councils can't cope. They do not abide by their own rules."
The LGA said that councils do not have powers to force contractors who take away waste to say where it is going - yet they have the power to spy on our telephone calls and emails, to enter our houses at will and watch our every move with CCTV cameras.
LGA chief Paul Bettison told council leaders to 'review' where their recycled rubbish is going. He also appealed to the Environment Agency for new rules to compel contractors to discuss the destination of waste. LGA officials said 200 councils are certain of where rubbish sorted for recycling ends up. Another 20 have acknowledged they do not know. That leaves 135 councils which have not confirmed they know what happens to their rubbish.
A number of councils have been caught sending carefully sorted material put out for recycling to landfill sites. Others use contractors who send waste to foreign and Third World countries. Turkey and China are leading destinations. Other consignments go to countries including Guinea, Ghana, Libya, Azerbaijan and Vietnam, where waste is supposed to be recycled but there are few checks on what is done with it.
Latest figures on domestic rubbish collections show more than a third, 34 per cent, is recycled and ministers have proclaimed that Britain is on course to hit EU targets.
However, the figure applies only to waste collected from homes. It does not cover what councils do with it.
When this story appeared in the Daily Mail, Percy from London responded "Councils who fail to audit their disposal contractors are in breach of EU law and the council officials are probably liable in their personal capacity via their contracts. Wouldn't it be music to our ears to hear of council officials being hit with 100,000 fines and instant dismissal for incompetence?"
Yeah, like that's going to happen.
The cockles of the GOS's withered old heart were slightly warmed the other day by a conversation he overheard in the supermarket queue. The checkout lady was explaining to a customer, a rosy-cheeked old country woman, that as this was a Co-op supermarket she would in future have to pay for her plastic bags. "We're trying to save the environment," she explained.
And the down-to-earth customer's response?
She gathered up her shopping, looked round at the queue behind her, sniffed and said "Sod the bloody environment!"

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