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Environment Agency seizes illicit electronics bound for Africa

Six people have been fined a total of £3,528 after shipping containers of illegal WEEE exports were seized at UK ports.

The waste items, which were traced to businesses in the Tyneside area, consisted mainly of televisions in 11 containers. The equipment was bound for West African countries including Ghana and Nigeria.

Environmental crime team leader Dave Edwardson said: “Discarded electrical equipment contains materials that can be damaging to the environment if not disposed of or treated correctly.

“Containers are often deliberately mis-labelled in a bid to get away with having them dealt with properly.”

WEEE must be dealt with at specialist treatment centres, as items such as fridges and freezers, televisions and fluorescent tubes qualify as hazardous waste. Exporters have to protectively package any electrical equipment for export and the items also need to work properly.

“This illegal activity can have a major impact abroad where the people handling this waste often have no safeguards in place to protect themselves or the environment,” Edwardson added.

  • Photo of the seized materials supplied by the Environment Agency

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