The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) found four separate containers of discarded consumer products due to be shipped to west Africa in the last five months, following information from environmental activists.
Waste tyres were found on an industrial estate in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire. Waste television sets were found on industrial sites in Glasgow.
A shipment of tyres to Nigeria from Scotland was halted at Felixstowe by England’s Environment Agency, informed by Sepa, reports The Scotsman.
Traders continue illegal trade in mixed hazardous waste, turning a profit baed on ‘cherry picking’, removing only valuable components and dumping the rest in African wasteland, shortcutting recycling legislation.
Waste tyres and TV sets add to logistics cost, recycling clutter, health impacts, and pollution. Waste generators are tempted to accept cheaper options to be rid of waste containing hazardous components.
Traders’ agents search the UK for waste resources to export without relevant licencing, despite the threat of unlimited fines and two years in prison.
Waste handling procedures
Sepa said no legal action had been taken in the revealed cases, offering the agents an opportunity to follow legal recycling or export procedures.
Waste fires, tyres in river
Patrick McKell, produce compliance and waste shipment manager at Sepa, said tyres to be shipped to Ghana were likely to be sold as fuel to burn other industrial wastes like animal hides and plastics in Africa, despite toxic fumes and probable disposal in rivers.
International dumping leads to a range of treatment, disposal, health and environmental problems.
Waste TV sets are sold for up to £8 each in Nigeria, where some components are stripped and sold. Child labour may be involved, and personal protective equipment (PPE) is typically not used.
Waste television sets were bound for Lagos, where plastic casings, mostly of fire-resistant plastics, would be dumped in remote areas. Health and environmental education has not yet made an impact in the basic waste industries in West Africa.
Sepa forces waste traders to return the containers to their sites at their cost, remove all unusable components, and dispose of the remnants safely.
PHOTO; Electronic waste, or ewaste, contain some marginally valuable components like receivers, amplifiers, precious metals, as well as loads of worthless plastics, glass tubes, and toxins. Informal recyclers in third world countries are willing to shift the waste burden from Europe to rural areas.