A report published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reveals some stark statistics about the state of WEEE recycling around the world. Their figures suggest that as much as 90% of the world’s waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE) could be being illegally traded or dumped annually. This comes as a shock as the latest figures from the UK at the very least paint a different picture.
The new report, Waste Crime – Waste Risks: Gaps in Meeting the Global Waste Challenge, suggests around 369 million tonnes of WEEE are handled illegally each year, with the value of this waste being as much as £12bn.
The estimate they have put together is based upon their ‘latest research findings, and involvement from practitioners such as the formal waste sector, inspectors, law enforcement officers and prosecutors’ which together suggest that only 10-40% of all e-waste is recycled in a legal and proper manner.
EU Exports to Africa and Asia
The reason behind much of the problem is believed to be down to exportation WEEE. UNEP believe that the problem is mainly caused by companies within the European Union and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) illegally exporting their WEEE to non-OECD countries, mainly in Africa and Asia. In these countries the protection of workers and environmental protection laws are less stringent and the WEEE isn’t handled within regulations ensuring it is actually being recycled.
WEEE can very easily find itself way into illegal channels because of the many valuable materials used in the protection of many products means they are in demand for stripping and selling on and also, as the report suggests, it is a cheaper method of getting rid of WEEE, rather than sending the materials for treatment via the legally approved methods and routes.
UNEP calls for improved awreness of the impact of e-waste crime and how damaging it can be to the planet and also the people in the states who are working with our waste. They are encouraging non-governmental organisations to take a key role in exposing waste crime and ensure our waste is handled legally and correctly.
Corporate Social Responsibility and Legal IT Recycling
For businesses in the UK of all sizes, it is essential that their WEEE is handled legally to avoid any repercussions of breaking WEEE legislation. An easy and peace of mind inducing option for handling your WEEE is to partner up with an approved and effective IT recycling provider.
At Buy IT Back we are committed to socially responsible, best practice and legal methods of recycling your old IT equipment, ensuring it is handled with care and that you get a good price for your equipment too, a bit of a bonus. To avoid the dangers of malpractice and damaging your company reputation, we always recommend you find a reputable partner for disposing of your old, unused equipment, rather than allowing it to be dumped at a landfill or left in your premises costing you money.