Illegal shipment of waste: the opinion of CECED

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According to a report from 2010 (WEEE Forum, Layman’s Report, Harmonization of a common set of European standards for the treatment and recycling of electronic and electrical waste and for the monitoring of the processing companies), 11.5 million tonnes of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) were placed on the single European market of the EU 27 and Switzerland and Norway while the actual amount of electronic waste (also known as WEEE arising) was estimated to total 7.9 million tonnes. Of this total, only 3.1 million tonnes of e-waste was reported to the authorities as collected and treated. This level of e-waste capture is clearly insufficient. Reducing illegal e-waste export and higher collection rates can be achieved by full registering and reporting of all WEEE flows regardless of whether they are properly treated by a recycling system managed by producers or by other WEEE actors or recyclers. Member States have an important role to play in reducing the illegal shipment of e-waste. CECED sees the proposals to reinforce and extend powers of national inspection authorities at EU level as a step in the right direction. It also notes the proposals regarding:
– the strengthening of regular physical inspections and spot checks of waste shipments, as part of an annual and published inspections plan undertaking risk assessments for specific waste streams and sources of illegal shipments,
– the need for a greater level of documentary evidence from suspected illegal waste exporters. Failure to tackle Europe’s illegal export of WEEE problem means:
– legitimate European and international trade is challenged;
– precious WEEE sources (materials that could be “mined” from discarded appliances) are not captured within Europe for a second life;
– the hazardous substances contained in some e-waste are not correctly processed and may pose a risk for workers in non-EU countries.
CECED reiterates that all operators that handle WEEE should be obliged to respect the reporting, treatment and recycling requirements that producers are required to fulfill by law. Furthermore, CECED is involved as participant in the Countering WEEE Illegal Trade (CWIT) Project funded by the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research. This project aims to provide a set of recommendations to support the European Commission, law enforcement authorities, and customs organizations, in countering the illegal trade of e-waste in and from Europe.

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