Articles in the The Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph claimed Boris Johnson’s waste advisor Peter Jones had said recycling could be contributing to the problem.

The reports followed a BBC interview in which the former Biffa director called for an “urgent” review of Government policy on recycling to assess the impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

He also suggested in the interview that incineration could be a cleaner option if the alternative is to ship the waste thousands of miles to a facility where it can be recycled.

But Mr Jones denied the newspapers’ claims that he believed recycling was adding to global warming.

In a statement responding to the Telegraph story, he said: “At the moment, I believe there are effective and successful policies in place for composting and recycling but that we need as full an understanding as possible of carbon implications of all collection and treatment methods of our rubbish to demonstrate the substantial additional further savings that can be made.

“I would also like to reiterate that I was speaking in a personal capacity as someone who has a real interest in waste issues and the future of the waste hierarchy.”

WRAP (the Waste & Resources Action Programme) also condemned the media reports as “misleading and factually incorrect” and said accused them of undermining the environmental benefits being reaped by the public’s recycling efforts.

Dr Liz Goodwin, CEO of WRAP, said: “Recycling is good for the environment, saves energy, reduces raw material extraction and helps combat climate change.”

Research carried out by WRAP has concluded that shipping plastics and paper to China to be recycled actually saves carbon emissions, as shipping goods less than 10,000 miles produces less CO2 than sending them to landfill and producing brand new products (see related story).

Findings published last year by the organisation also said that recycling plastics saves two tonnes of CO2 equivalent per tonne of plastic in comparison to incineration.

Kate Martin

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