The suspects charged have been bailed to attend Havering Magistrates Court today (November 11) at 2pm. The charges follow a two-year investigation by the Environment Agency in the biggest investigation of its kind.

The law states that broken electricals, such as mobiles, laptops and TVs cannot be sent overseas for disposal. Electrical waste contains hazardous substances including mercury and lead that are harmful to people and the environment.

The Environment Agency’s National Environmental Crime team manager, Andy Higham, said: “Over the past two years painstaking intelligence work by Environment Agency officers has uncovered a web of individuals and companies that appear to be making considerable sums of money by exporting electrical waste overseas.

“Exporters of broken electricals put at risk the lives of those who work on waste sites in developing countries. These are often children who are paid a pittance to dismantle products containing hazardous waste. Illegal exporters also avoid the costs of recycling in the UK and undermine law-abiding business.

“It is always a crime to export broken electricals and hazardous waste from the UK to developing countries to be dumped. The last thing we want is our waste causing harm to people or the environment overseas.”

The Environment Agency’s National Crime Team began their investigations in mid-2008. They uncovered a network of individuals, waste companies and export businesses allegedly involved in the export of electrical waste.

In some instances, it is alleged that considerable sums of money changed hands in deals to collect and recycle electrical waste while treatment costs were avoided.

Over six million electrical items, amounting to one million tones, are thrown away in the UK every year.

Half of the 18 investigations the Environment Agency’s National Crime Team is currently conducting into the illegal export of waste are in relation to electrical waste. The remaining nine investigations include the illegal export of tyres and household waste.

Alison Brown

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