Protecting the environment with intelligence

EIA investigate the murky world of e-waste

CRTs on way from EU to HK (had been hidden behind plastic bales) CREDIT EIA

CRTs on way from EU to HK (had been hidden behind plastic bales). Credit EIA

Yes, we’re recycling an old post but never keen to waste things here, we are reposting a very relevant blog post this weekend.

Come Monday the 16th May, a mere 3 days time, we will be launching our latest report on a new area of work for EIA, electronic waste. Some of you may have seen our campaign to raise funds, you can see below our early evidence, since then we have been able to produce a full report exposing our findings. Our report System Failure exposes the toxic flood of discarded technology leaving the UK to wash up illegally in Africa.

Even more exciting, to all those who live in the UK, tune in Monday 8.30pm to BBC One’s Panorama; Track my trash. The Panorama programme features EIA and is based on our findings.

Tune in on Monday and find out where your old PC might have ended up.

Read  the full report.

Find us in The Ecologist here, BBC News here and The Independent here.


EIA’s investigators have discovered that much of the UK’s e-waste is illegally dumped in Africa with terrible environmental and human consequences.

Within Europe alone it is estimated that 75% of e-waste ‘disappears’ despite laws aimed at promoting recycling and banning export to developing countries. E-waste contains valuable metals such as gold and copper. Illegally shipped out in bulk, the waste is stripped down to bare components using primitive methods:

  • copper wires are bundled and set alight emitting vast quantities of toxic dioxins
  • TV screens are smashed with hammers, releasing plumes of lead dust
  • circuit boards are smelted to gather lead with the same utensils that are used to prepare food!
  • After the useful metals are taken out, leftover parts are often dumped in landfills or rivers or simply burnt, releasing toxins into the environment that poison people and wildlife for years to come.
Credit Andrew McConnell/Panos Pictures

Credit Andrew McConnell/Panos Pictures

Poverty often drives young children to carry out this work to help support their families, and the potential health consequences are dire.

Reproductive and developmental problems; damaged immune, nervous and blood systems; kidney damage and impaired brain development in the young. Studies have also found increased levels of dioxins in mothers and their breast-fed infants who lived at the recycling sites.


This campaign will be launched in the next few weeks with the publication of our ground breaking in-depth report. We plan to distribute these as widely as possible for maximum impact and to bring the message home to decision makers in the government that this is not a trade which takes place far away – it starts here.

A GPS tracker costs £500 and allows us to track specific items of e-waste from point of origin in the UK to their final resting place and provides the irrefutable evidence to expose this illegal trade as well as the detrimental environmental and health impacts. With your help we can track items like fridges, not just from personal waste but corporate and government waste too.

Electronic Waste Credit i-stock

Donate Today.

Text EIAA11 £5 to 70070 and support our work today.

What you can do:

Think about whether you really need the latest mobile phone or TV; the less waste we make the better. If you do have an old item that you want to get rid of try internet recycling networks like Freecycle. As consumers we have the biggest say of all, but we need to start speaking out.

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2 Responses

  1. Lewis Fisher says:

    Should be an interesting show on Monday and looking forward to reading your report. Anyone know SWEEEP? Nice web site I wonder why they did not get to recycle stuff from London what with them being so close. A lot closer than Nigeria!

  2. Crook3rs says:

    Very good programme last night raising awareness of the illegal dumping of e-waste. Should be hightened as not something most people woudl be aware of ordinarily.

    Also very moving programme, highlighting the damage to the environment and health of people in the regions involved.

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