Protecting the environment with intelligence

E-waste special, reporting back on Panorama’s Track My Trash

Did you get to see last night’s Panorama, Track my Trash? What did you think? We would love to hear your feedback.

If you missed it you can catch up on BBC iplayer here.

System Failure: The UK’s harmful trade in electronic waste

System Failure: The UK’s harmful trade in electronic waste

It’s times like this that make this job really worthwhile. I’ve been amazed by the reactions of the public and industry toEIA’s report “System Failure: The UK’s harmful trade in electronic waste” and last night’s Panorama. I think the programme did a great job of explaining this huge problem and our responsibility as consumers to ensure that our old junk doesn’t end up poisoning children in developing countries. EIA was involved with the programme from its inception and I think it’s been a good example of successful collaboration.

But our work doesn’t stop here, now that our findings have been published we will follow up the investigation in order to push for real change in how the UK handles its electronic waste. We plan to engage with industry to encourage them to clean up their act, to work on improving the enforcement of existing regulations and to look into fixing the systematic failings that have led to the colossal environmental problem. We also waiting to see what the Environment Agency’s reaction to our work will be.

Read EWC’s response to our investigation, similarly South London Waste Partnership have also made a statement.

If you’re concerned about the fate of your e-waste here are a few tips and questions you ask:

  •  The biggest way to reduce the harmful impacts of e-waste is to reduce the amount of electronic goods we throw out. Before updating your laptop or mobile phone, please think about whether you really do need a new one, often we tend to get rid of perfectly functional electronic items just to keep up with the latest trends.
  • If you do have an old item that you want to get rid of try internet recycling networks like Freecycle.
  •  If you do have e-waste that you want to dispose of try to find out whether the company disposing of the goods or your local council recycling site audits the trail of all electronic goods left in their care.
  •  Some councils will contract reuse companies to repair and reuse items left at their recycling sites. EIA totally supports the reuse of electronic goods but our investigations showed that some reuse companies don’t test and repair broken TVs before exporting them. If your local council uses a reuse company the company should supply details of how many electronic goods they were able to repair and export and how many they had to send for recycling and the final destinations of all those electronic goods.
As consumers we have the biggest say of all, but we need to start speaking out.

This investigation took 18 months from start to finish and it’s expensive to get the quality of evidence EIA is renowned for.

If you want to help us to continue to tackle e-waste text EIAA11 £3 to 70070.

Fionnuala Walravens
Fin Walravens
Team Leader of the Global Environment Campaign
We’ve recieved lots of feedback following last night’s programme, here are just a few of your comments:
  • @Sarafino1: I work in the Recycling Industry but not electricals, so have to say shocked!
  • @NAbeyie_x:  I was rather surprised, I didn’t think something like that went on.. Its good to know
  • @EmilyvonR: I thought it was a depressing insight into what is going on but I wonder if people will now be put off from recycling…
  • @amiemiddleton: It was difficult to watch as some companies try to do the right thing and are held up at every stage by gov bodies!
  • @Crook3rs: Very good programme last night raising awareness of the illegal dumping of e-waste. Should be heightened as not something most people would be aware of ordinarily. Also very moving programme, highlighting the damage to the environment and health of people in the regions involved.
  • @ITSAmanda: I do so hope your report helps to make a positive difference. Will watch panorama 2nite on iplayer
  • @Hayleybowcock: Govt must do more to stop illegal eWaste exports
  • @Wonder_Woman16: Panorama was amazing very shocking!!! Can’t believe Croydon was mentioned.
  • Jackie: Good programme, I am sure most people will be shocked by this trade
  • Ralph: I have several items of electronic gear stored in the attic. What should I do with them?
  • Tom: I read about this in the Observer yesterday, and I have now also seen the Panorama programme. I live in Croydon so this report is of local relevance and I hope to take this to my local green party for further action.
  • Jeff: I would like to congratulate you on the recent investigation into the illegal export of e-waste.
  • Simon: Good work, EIA.

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  1. [...] 2010, two Guardian front-page investigations originated from NGOs, while BBC Panorama’s recent investigation into e-waste being dumped in Africa relied heavily on the charity Environmental Investigations Agency. So many [...]

  2. [...] the issue? You can read more about the UK’s problem on e-waste or you can watch BBC’s Panorama Track my Trash. The Panorama programme features EIA and is [...]

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