An electrical recycling company faces prosecution costs of £8,200 for illegally shipping old computers and electrical waste to Afghanistan.
The owner of recycling company Quest International, Naveed Sohail, has been convicted at Bradford Magistrates' Court and fined £1,000 for each of four offences breaching waste regulations after the Environment Agency discovered a container bound for Afghanistan contained broken computer monitors and electrical equipment.
Electrical waste can contain toxic materials, such as mercury, copper, arsenic and lead. Louise Azmi, prosecuting counsel for the Environment Agency, said the broken computer monitors were classed as hazardous waste, which could not be shipped for disposal or recovery to a non-OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) country such as Afghanistan.
Waste shipments abroad are subject to the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007. The UK must also comply with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive 2007.
Roy Howitt from the Environment Agency said, "It is illegal to export electrical waste from the UK to developing countries. The last thing we want is our electrical waste causing harm to people or the environment overseas; and Afghanistan does not have the infrastructure to recycle electrical items safely."
The case forms part of a larger investigation by the Environment Agency into the illegal exportation of electrical waste.
In a statement, the agency said, "It is always illegal to export electrical waste from the UK to developing countries and waste companies, local authorities and businesses have a duty of care and moral responsibility to ensure hazardous electrical waste is properly recycled here in the UK."
A man from Rochdale was found guilty in February 2011 for attempting to illegally send e-waste to Ghana in Africa. A total of 11 individuals and companies stood for trial at Basildon Crown Court on 11 March, facing charges related to breaches of e-waste regulations.
See Computer Weekly's campaign for Action Against E-Waste.