The fund, which comes from the European Union’s ‘LIFE’ programme, will help develop the European Network of Prosecutors for the Environment (ENPE).

The ENPE will crack down on environmental crime and target companies that are not compliant with various regulations – most notably illegal international shipments of waste, destruction of wildlife and crimes relating to industrial discharges and chemicals.

ENPE president Jonathan Robinson said: “I am thrilled that the Environment Agency has secured this European funding. Environmental crime increasingly involves sophisticated and organised criminals, working across borders, and it can cause serious harm to the environment and put communities at risk.

“It is vital that the Environment Agency and other European environmental prosecutors work collaboratively to tackle this problem through bodies such as ENPE, and this funding will help us do that.”

Acting as a financial instrument supporting environmental and climate action projects, the European Union LIFE programme has contributed approximately €3.4bn euros to the protection of the environment and climate since its launch in 1992.


A separate EU-funded project, the Countering WEEE Illegal Trade (CWIT), last week found that only 3.3 million tonnes (35%) of used-but-still-functioning waste electronics (WEEE) ended up in official recycling systems. 

One such official recycling system is the PV CYCLE group, which is the first ‘take back’ and recycling system for photovoltaic technologies.

The group – made up of leading PV companies such as Solar Frontier and SunPower – yesterday expressed their concerns over companies’ negligence to comply with legal requirements of EU-wide WEEE legislation.

PV CYCLE president Axel Steuer said: “Free-riders are a threat to the PV industry, especially in these difficult times, and a threat to our product’s promise: an all-green product. Those who are compliant pay double the cost for PV waste management.”

While WEEE compliance does come with administrative burdens, it assures end-users and customers of the quality of their products. According to the PV CYCLE group, a high non-compliance rate would jeopardise any hope the PV industry has of creating a sustainable lifecycle for their products.

The group also stated that that approximately 40% of the EU market is not compliant with legislation. This is despite the WEEE Directive system saving producers £18m.

Matt Mace

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