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Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Plastic Documentary Statement: Episode 2

In the latest episode of the BBC's plastic waste documentary, the presenter can be seen presenting the Council with an empty recycling bag from this Authority, which was found within plastic waste from across the UK outside a town near the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0006347/war-on-plastic-with-hugh-and-anita-series-1-episode-2

The discovery was first presented to the Council via routine filming in November 2018, about recycling in general, at the Council’s Bryn Pica Recycling site. The Council were NOT made aware of the discovery prior to filming. As a result, the Council was unable to respond on the spot with accurate and up-to-date information to the interviewer’s questions.

It is important to highlight that until being presented with the empty RCT recycling bag during the filming, by the production company responsible for this series, to our knowledge, which was based upon the contractual arrangements we have in place, all our recyclable waste was being processed in the correct and proper way. 

The waste data figures that were referred to in the programme were from 2017/18 and not for the current financial year (2018/19). Since 31st May 2018, the Council has not exported any waste materials outside of the EU, as stated in the interview.

Immediately after the filming, the Council conducted a full investigation with the accredited company concerned to find out why a Rhondda Cynon Taf recycling bag was found in Malaysia.  

The company concerned maintain that the correct procedures have been followed in respect of managing the recyclable waste of this Council. The Council no longer utilises this company.

The Council can also confirm that 97% of our waste was processed in the UK. The remaining 3% was, for specific reasons such as papermill capacity in the UK, treated and processed outside the UK under EU and the Environment Agency licenses. 

In response to this discovery, the Council has also sought assurances and evidence from all of its UK waste processing contractors, all of whom are licensed and regulated by the Natural Resources Wales and the Environment Agency, to reaffirm that all Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s waste has been properly processed in the UK. All the companies have provided evidence that this is the case. 

The Council supports the action being taken by the Environment Agency to investigate and prosecute organisations that have not complied with their licences to recover and recycle plastics exported to countries such as Malaysia but are fraudulently sending the waste to landfill or illegally dumping it. 

We want to reassure residents that their positive recycling efforts are not in vain and that recyclable material is processed in a way in which both residents and the Council would wish, to enable future use. 

As a Council, we believe the work of this programme highlights the need for the UK Government to provide stronger regulation of this industry in order to ensure that waste and recyclable materials are unable to be disposed of in this way.

Posted on Tuesday 18th June 2019