A carter in England’s North West exposes what he belives are blatantly phony recycling claims by a competitor and suggests that the solid waste sector of the United Kingdom’s fledgling green economy may be an empty shell.
The author runs into the nearly absolute inability of bureaucracies and government agencies to act decisively on complaints except in cases where extreme pressure is brought by powerful people or forces. Farmer, the managing director of a carting company in the Manchester area, describes himself as a man of straw, a dust-bin man and the like, and certainly lacks any great influence despite a quixotic run for parliament in 2010 that wins him few votes. Add to this some peculiar laws in the U.K. that make it especially difficult to go after a wrongdoer hammer and tong. For him to accuse a competitor of falsely advertising a 95 percent recycling rate puts him in jeopardy of a defamation charge, and indeed this is what the competitor in question quickly threatens. With the press also constrained by some of the same quirky British laws, Farmer’s story has struggled for a public airing. Certainly any journalist worth his or her salt will immediately recognize in Farmer an invaluable source whose own investigative and journalistic instincts add weight to what he says. In the larger picture, Farmer’s account of false recycling claims is not enough by itself to support an exposé of how bogus “green” claims play out in a marketplace where environmentalism may all too often get lip service while regulators look the other way. But what he alleges would be a very telling case in point for a broader exposé. Farmer is to be congratulated for his dogged efforts to blow the whistle as long and loud as possible—writing this book is the culmination of that. But there is a caveat. Any third-person examination of the charges he raises would require substantial investigation and a full airing of his competitor’s counter-claims. Without further independent investigation, and notwithstanding the documents Farmer includes in the book, the story per force remains one-sided.
An admirable effort to shine a spotlight in places light rarely reaches.