UK worst offender in Europe for electronic waste exports – report

The report estimated 352,474 metric tonnes of electronic waste is being illegally shipped from the EU to developing countries each year. Photograph: BAN

The UK is the worst offender in Europe for illegally exporting toxic electronic waste to developing countries, according to a two-year investigation that tracked shipments from 10 European countries.

The investigation by the environmental watchdog the Basel Action Network (BAN) put GPS trackers on 314 units of computers, LCD monitors and printers placed in recycling facilities in 10 countries. Researchers mapped what they said was the export of 11 items to Ghana, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tanzania, Thailand and Ukraine.

Electronic waste is deemed a hazardous waste by the EU due to toxic parts containing substances such as mercury, lead and flame retardants. Exports of this type of waste to non-OECD and non-EU countries are illegal under EU law.

The UK was the top of the list of suspected illegal shipments. Five computers and LCD monitors were shipped to developing countries after they were tracked and placed in council recycling centres across England and Scotland.

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