Collect and Recycle

Case reveals the cost of illegal WEEE exports

Table of Contents

As leading experts in WEEE recycling, Collect and Recycle ( understands that the export of hazardous WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment) to the third world can of course be a legitimate and highly worthwhile trade. However a recent case highlights the cost of illegal WEEE exports, with one individual facing a fine of £112,015 in what is the UK’s biggest case of its kind to date.

At Collect and Recycle we pride ourselves on WEEE disposal which is entirely compliant with all aspects of both domestic and international law; it’s something we take incredibly seriously, ensuring all WEEE regulations are met at all times. While we provide a national electrical waste recycling service and do not enter into WEEE exporting, there are many fully legitimate WEEE exporters that comply with the strict regulations when disposing of electrical and electronic waste through international exportation.

However, earlier this month, three men were fined under the Proceeds of Crimes Act following Britain’s most high profile illegal WEEE export case. Three individuals from a Sussex firm were found guilty of exporting hazardous WEEE to Nigeria, Ghana and Pakistan in breach of the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007 and the European Waste Shipment Regulation 2006. Under these regulations, it is illegal to export waste materials to any non-OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.

The Environment Agency carried out a complex investigation named ‘Operation Boron’ which commenced back in 2008 and culminated in two trials. The case found that every stage of the export chain had liability to meet the regulations when it came to carrying out tests on the waste electrical goods and that this testing did not take place adequately to meet export rules. When passing the ruling, the Judge commented, “We live in a consumer society and that means that unlike days gone by we buy electrical goods knowing that they won’t be with us forever…There is a legitimate trade, one that should be encouraged which takes electrical goods to the third world where they can be sold cheaply.” However, he highlighted the need to follow strict export regulations and that WEEE items remain waste until “something is done to ensure that they are not waste”.

The judge listed five actions which are needed for the items to be resold:

  • A visual inspection
  • Ensure it is in good working order
  • PAT test
  • Functional test – works and does what is has been designed to do
  • Paper audit trail.

Andy Higham of the Environment Agency said, “This case and the Judge’s ruling send out a warning that displays to all involved in WEEE exports that we take this matter extremely seriously.”

Our national WEEE recycling service is 100% compliant with all regulations, with our clients having full peace of mind that they are disposing of their electrical and electronic waste legally, efficiently and ethically. Find out more at

Receive A Quote