THE UK’s biggest criminal probe into electrical waste exports means business owners must examine how they dispose of old electricals warns a recycling expert.
This month nine individuals were charged with illegally exporting electrical goods for disposal overseas, following a two-year investigation by The Environment Agency.
This recent clampdown suggests many more fines could follow, according to Simon Walsh co-founder of ShP limited, a regulated electronics recycling business.
ShP Limited works with councils and businesses across the UK to help them comply with Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive. He says:
"Businesses exporting waste illegally need to be made an example of. The message is getting clearer – and authorities are getting tougher. Organisations need to be aware they have a legal responsibility to dispose of electrical waste responsibly. Those that don’t have a high risk of being caught out, it’s just a matter of time."
If broken electrical and hazardous waste ends up in the wrong hands, the consequences are serious, particularly for those working on waste sites in developing countries. Walsh continues:
"Businesses may not realise they’re doing anything wrong, but this will be no excuse. They must audit the businesses they use to recycle their old electronics.
"All local authorities are required to make sure electrical and electronic goods are stored securely and only sent to authorised facilities. When appointing a business to collect your electrical waste, always ask to see evidence the recycling firm is reputable and authorised for recycling and disposal.
Walsh says organisations need to consider security too:
"Organisations need to consider their data protection policies. They need to make sure their recycling firm issues evidence they are erasing data with software that eradicates sensitive information. Always check your recycler’s International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) accreditation and waste management licenses."
The electrical market in the UK is estimated to be worth £23 billion per year.