The launch of the Countering WEEE Illegal Trade (CWIT) project was announced today by project co-ordinator, Interpol (International Criminal Police Organisation). The project will provide a set of recommendations to the European Commission and law enforcement authorities that will assist them in countering the illegal trade of WEEE ( Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment), also known as ‘e-waste’ within and from Europe. Funded by the European Union’s Framework Program 7, this 2 year security research project brings together a group of experts skilled in the fields of e-waste analysis, crime analysis, supply chain security, and database management.
Only around 3 million tons of the estimated total of 8 million tons in WEEE was officially collected, treated, and reported to authorities across Europe in 2010. E-waste contains materials such as gold, copper, and palladium which makes it very valuable on the black market; attracting not just illegal single operators but serious organised crime groups.
However e-waste also contains hazardous substances such as mercury and cadmium. Therefore illegal e-waste handling, often in poorer countries, leads to huge health issues and environmental pollution. At the same time, European Union Member States are losing a vast amount of rare earth metals and other important minerals due to increasing illicit activities, poor compliance rates, and limited enforcement activities in eWaste.
These issues call for increased attention and enhanced enforcement in the context of WEEE trade, transport, and treatment. The CWIT consortium is composed of partners that have a great deal of expertise on the WEEE area, crime analysis and the management of large databases, it comprises Interpol, WEEE Forum aisbl, United Nations University (UNU), Zanasi & Partners (Z&P), Compliance and Risks (C2P), Cross-Border Research Association (CBRA) and United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI).
CWIT will help its two main target groups, WEEE related industries, and governmental policy & enforcement actors, to enhance capabilities to seriously reduce illicit activities around WEEE in the future. the outputs of the CWIT-project will comprise a set of recommendations related to the European legal and policy framework, taking account of the objectives and constraints of all key government and business stakeholders; as well as future research directions to undertake and new technologies to develop in order to minimize illicit activities and related problems.
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