Two year investigation sees nine charged over international WEEE dumping

Nine people have been charged today (October 14) in what the Environment Agency is saying is biggest investigation ever into illegal electrical waste exports from the UK to West Africa.

All nine have been charged with offences under the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007 and European Waste Shipment Regulations 2006 and bailed to attend Havering Magistrates Court on November 11.

It is illegal for UK businesses to send electronic waste abroad to be dumped and the action today, follows a two year investigation.

Officers from the Environment Agency’s National Crime Team began their investigations in the middle of 2008.

They claim to have uncovered a network of individuals, waste companies and export businesses involved in the export of electrical waste.

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

There’s also evidence of the waste ending up being illegally dumped in Africa, potentially avoiding huge fees for the companies allegedly involved.

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.”

Luke Walsh

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