The pet tortoise somehow ended up in a batch of recyclable materials from south or west London which was sent for sorting at an out-of-town Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).

The animal could have been forgiven for thinking he was the James Bond of the tortoise world as he found himself in a scene which would not have been out of place in a chelonian spy movie.

After a lengthy lorry journey amongst the rubbish he was loaded into a 12m long trommel along with the rest of the waste.

Braving shards of razor-sharp glass that were thrown around the spinning drum and buffeted by tin cans, the hard-shelled pet then found himself dumped on a conveyor belt where powerful magnets and laser-guided jets separate different types of paper.

He was eventually rescued from the conveyor when spotted by a member of staff, seconds before ending up in a baler which would have compacted the remaining waste to be sent on to a paper manufacturer.

“He did suffer some injuries,” Ruth Billingham of the Recycle Western Riverside (RWR) campaign told edie.

“When he was taken to the RSPCA he had an injured back leg and had suffered damage to his shell, which is still visible.”

He has now made a good recovery and Ruth described his condition as shell-shocked but unharmed.

The plucky pet has been named Murphy, after the terrifying MRF he survived, and re-homed.

While Murphy remains top of the list of unusual things that people have tried to recycle, other items include a five foot tall teddy bear, sex toys, a six foot tall plastic reindeer and hard cash.

RWR said that although lots of people have started to recycle, recycling the wrong thing is an all too common problem.

Sam Jarvis, campaign manager, said: “Murphy the tortoise is lucky to be alive. We can’t imagine how terrifying it must have been for him to be sorted like a glass bottle.

“Family pets are obviously not candidates for recycling under any circumstances, but there are also lots of more everyday items that people think are recyclable that actually are not.”

“Drink cartons and plastic food packaging are often put out with the recycling, but many services are unable to process these at the moment.

“People also need to be careful not to include any food with their recycling as it can contaminate the recyclable paper.”

RWR works to encourage residents in Hammersmith & Fulham, Lambeth, Wandsworth and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to recycle as much as possible and reduce the amount of rubbish they throw away.

RWR’s current summer campaign aims to encourage the 1 in 4 people that still aren’t recycling to do their bit. The call comes at a critical time as the landfill sites where the capital’s rubbish is buried are rapidly filling up.

Sam Bond

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