The UK Environment Agency is heading up the global crime team that is working with Interpol to track the links between organised crime, the illegal export of electrical waste and ‘waste tourists’ – those who visit a country posing as tourists with the intention of organising shady waste deals.

During their visit the ‘waste tourist’ will get one or more containers filled with waste and arrange for export. Their typically short stay makes it very difficult to bring them to justice.

EA chairman Lord Chris Smith said: “Investigations have found that each year thousands of tonnes of waste electrical equipment are shipped from Europe and America to developing countries to be stripped down – often by children under appalling conditions – to extract valuable metals such as gold, copper and aluminium.

“This is unacceptable. It is essential that we work with our counterparts in other countries to share intelligence and stamp out the growing problem of illegal waste exports.

“The group’s aim is to tackle an international problem with an international response.

The Environment Agency-led Interpol Global Crime Group initiative won the praise of both the US and Canadian Governments during recent international meetings.

Lord Smith together with Chief Executive Paul Leinster met with US EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and her officials in Washington last week to discuss key global issues such as climate change, waste and water resources.

The two organisations will work closely on intelligence-led illegal waste operations in the future.

Sam Bond

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