Nine in Havering Court in ‘biggest ever’ electrical waste probe

NINE people were charged on Thursday (October 7) following the biggest investigation into illegal electrical waste exports from the UK to West Africa.

It is alleged the group sent broken electricals - including everyday items such as mobile phones, laptops and TVs - overseas for disposal.

The waste can contain hazardous substances, including mercury and lead, which are harmful to the environment and people - including children paid to dismantle the goods.

The group were all 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.

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.

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He added: “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.”

Officers began their investigations in mid-2008.

They soon uncovered a network of individuals, waste companies and export businesses allegedly involved in the export of electrical waste.

It is alleged that considerable sums of money changed hands in deals to collect and recycle electrical waste while treatment costs were avoided.