Girl, 12, is fined for failing to recycle cardboard box

A 12-year-old girl has been "fined" £50 for not recycling a cardboard box properly.

Anna Fountain and her mother Diane wentto the recycling point in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, to find it was full. A cardboard box with Anna's name and address was found by officials beside the recycling point.

And because the council says it did have space for her rubbish it wrote to Anna stating that illegal dumping carries a £50,000 penalty and possible six-month jail sentence.

Mrs Fountain, of Eridge, near Tunbridge Wells, told BBC South East: "The letter was addressed to my 12-year-old, and it said it considered it illegal dumping of domestic waste.

"They enclosed an invoice of £50 to help with the clear-up costs."

The council, which is in the top 10 local authorities for recycling, says it will reconsider the £50 charge because it had not known that Anna was so young.

Gary Stevenson, the head of environment and street scene services, said: "A letter was sent to Ms Fountain because an uncrushed box bearing her details was found disposed of at the recycling site where one of the cardboard bins had space remaining.

"It was left with other rubbish, and others that were identified from this pile have also been sent a similar letter.

"Until this week's media interest we were unaware that Ms Fountain was a 12-year-old and we apologise for any distress caused.

"In light of this information, we are reconsidering our actions. We would encourage people to recycle, but to ensure that they use the facilities available considerately."

He added: "Residents from this borough [Mrs Fountain lives in neighbouring Wealden] benefit from a fortnightly collection of cardboard and paper from their doorstep, and they can leave cardboard for recycling this way rather than needing to take it to the recycling centres.

"Tunbridge Wells borough residents are the second-best recyclers in Kent."