EA charges nine people in biggest criminal investigation into illegal WEEE exports
Nine people have been charged by the Environment Agency in the biggest criminal investigation into unlawful waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE) exports.
Officers from the EA’s National Crime Team began investigations in mid-2008, uncovering a network of people, waste companies and export businesses allegedly involved in the export of waste.
In some cases it is claimed considerable sums of money were involved to collect and recycle WEEE while treatment costs were avoided.
The nine people have been charged with offences under the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007 and European Waste Shipment Regulations 2006. They have been bailed to attend Havering magistrates court on 11 November.
It is illegal to send broken electricals, mobile phones, smart phones, laptops and TVs overseas for disposal because they can contain hazardous substances including mercury and lead. Precious metals such as gold, copper and aluminium is also included in electricals.
EA 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.”