Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Illegal e-waste commerce focus of INTERPOL environmental crimes meeting

21 July 2009

© iStockPhoto / Ravi van Leeuwen

Millions of tonnes of personal computers are illegally disposed of each year

See also

Newsletter: Issue 01

LONDON, England - Developing an enforcement strategy to address the illegal trade and export of electronic waste (e-waste) is the focus of a two-day meeting of INTERPOL's Environmental Crime Programme which opened in London today.
As part of the Organization’s ongoing efforts in combating environmental crime, the INTERPOL e-waste project was established in 2007 to analyze and respond to illegal activities involving the exportation of scrapped computers, televisions, mobile telephones and other electronic waste to developing nations.

Electronic equipment contains a host of potentially hazardous materials including lead, arsenic mercury, cadmium and other toxic metals. The ‘smash and burn’ method often used in the illegal handling of e-waste in developing countries puts individual workers at risk of serious health problems such as damage to the brain, the central nervous system and internal organs.

These illegal operations also release significant levels of dangerous substances into the atmosphere and surrounding water resources which can reach such concentrated levels that the wider community is also affected.

“The illegal trade and export of e-waste not only affects the environment, but can also be linked to other crimes such as corruption, fraud and bribery,” said David Higgins, INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Programme manager.

“There is also the risk that personal and sensitive information can be retrieved from scrapped computers and mobile phones, leaving the former owners open to identity theft.”

During the meeting in London, hosted by the Environment Agency of England and Wales, experts from Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States will discuss and share best practice in dealing with illegal e-waste exports, including the identification of modus operandi and the need for a multi-disciplinary approach involving all areas of law enforcement.

INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Programme supports operational law enforcement activities in each of the 187 member countries through providing a secure international law enforcement communication network, assisting in building environmental law enforcement capacity globally and encouraging the exchange of environmental law enforcement intelligence internationally.

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