The Environment Agency’s new national environmental crime unit announced yesterday that a 46-year-old man had been arrested as part of a crackdown on the illegal export of electronic waste from Britain to the developing world.
The operation coincided with an investigation by The Independent, Sky News and Greenpeace that uncovered evidence that hundreds of thousands of items of broken “e-waste” are being sent to West Africa in contravention of rules which say it should be dismantled or recycled in Britain.
Documents seen by The Independent show that at least 10,000 tonnes of televisions and 23,000 tonnes of computers classified as hazardous waste are being illegally exported each year. It is understood the agency along with officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) is investigating a number of criminal networks suspected of involvement in the e-waste export industry.
The arrest of the 46-year-old man, from West Sussex, was unrelated to The Independent’s investigation. He was released on bail until 5 May. The Environment Agency said it was increasing it efforts to intercept e-waste as it leaves Britain and had prevented 33 cargo containers of electrical goods from leaving Britain in the past six months.