Welcome to the brave new world of environmental nanny-statism. A British man volunteered to be part of a pilot program for recycling. Apparently, a piece of junk mail addressed to the man somehow got into a bag meant for glass only. When officials found the offending paper, they did the logical thing, at least the logical thing for an out of control nanny state.
A householder has told of his despair at being landed with a criminal record for putting a scrap of paper in a bin bag meant for bottles and cans.
Michael Reeves, 28, has become Britain's first recycling martyr after a court fined him £200 for disobeying rules about sorting his rubbish.
He had volunteered to take part in a recycling scheme launched by Swansea Council. But somehow a single piece of junk mail found its way into a bag designated for other rubbish. And when council workers found his name and address on it, they prosecuted.
Last night the case provoked widespread anger. Even environmentalists said that it could put people off recycling as millions of householders already struggle to make sense of bewildering rules governing how to dispose of their rubbish.
Mr Reeves told The Mail on Sunday: "I now have a criminal record and it will weigh me down like a millstone. I will have to explain myself every time I apply for a new job. And if I want to go to the United States I will have to apply for a special entry visa."
Mr Reeves, a sports writer, also spoke of his frustration at his time-consuming journey through five court hearings.
"Not satisfied with a false accusation of mixing up my rubbish, they tried to throw in an additional charge of leaving the bags out on the wrong day,' he said. "Looked at in one way it is a hilarious tale of barmy bureaucracy – but I found it no laughing matter."
Last night, campaign group the Taxpayers' Alliance accused local authorities of cynically using the environment as an excuse to collect extra revenue. Director James Frayne said: "This is a joke. The Green movement in Britain is in danger of being hijacked by tax-hungry politicians. People will soon start to associate going green with going broke."
Welcome, Michael, to the Brave New World. Perhaps a jolt of Soma to take the edge off? Pay no attention to the savages.