Waste and Recycling

Export for reuse - a statement by Hampshire County Council, 24 July 2009

Independent findings show export systems are robust

An independent audit has concluded that robust systems are in place to prevent non-functional CRTs (i.e. cathode ray tube sets including televisions and computer monitors) left by the public at Hampshire County Council’s Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) being exported for re-use.

The Export for Reuse Audit Report confirms that all parties audited operate within the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directive and associated regulations and also comply with waste and shipping legislation relating to the export of televisions and monitors for reuse.

The audit was commissioned by the County Council after a media report in February 2009 alleged that a non-functional television was left at its recycling centre in Basingstoke and tracked to Lagos. The purpose of the audit was to check whether there are weaknesses in the system which could lead to non-functioning televisions from Hampshire’s Household Waste Recycling Centres, ending up in the export market by accident or intent.

Having scrutinised the practices and procedures relating to the export of functional electrical and electronic equipment at the County Council’s recycling centres by Hopkins Recycling Ltd (the operator) and related sub-contractors, the auditors have found systems to be robust. No evidence was found to indicate that non-functional televisions leaving an HWRC were being exported. The auditors established that the procedures and operations comply fully with UK and European legislation and meet Environment Agency standards.

Councillor Mel Kendal, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Environment said: “We are reassured by the fact that the independent audit has confirmed that all our operations in relation to the management of waste electrical and electronic equipment are sound and rigorous, to prevent televisions or computer monitors that are not in working order from being exported.

“The auditors’ view was that the audits at the recycling centre’s revealed that there were no problems regarding the practices on site in terms of allowing non-functional televisions to be exported. This does not however provide a guarantee that this cannot happen but the auditors are confident that sufficient practices are in place to minimise this.

“We believed that this was the case but we took the allegation made in the media report very seriously which is why immediate action was taken to commission an independent audit. The audit has been extremely thorough, leaving no stone unturned, so we can be confident the findings accurately reflect the true position.

“Hampshire has an excellent record in managing waste. We are the leading waste management authority in the country diverting 90% of the County’s household waste from landfill. We take our responsibility for waste very seriously and we are confident that our systems and processes are as strong as they can be, although given the number of human interactions involved, clearly there is a possibility for mistakes to occur. ”

In reporting their findings the auditors have also made recommendations to the County Council to ensure that continuing compliance with relevant waste legislation is achieved and further improvements are made to build on existing practice which the auditors believe is satisfactory. In doing so, the auditors clearly state that this does not detract from their main conclusion.

A copy of the Executive Summary together with the full report and recommendations can be viewed online at www.hants.gov.uk/rh/report/export-for-reuse.pdf

ENDS

Notes for editors

  1. The Audit was carried out by specialised waste consultants, Mott Gifford. It was concentrated on Hampshire County Council’s contractors - in this case, Hopkins Recycling Ltd who manage and operate the household waste recycling centres - and, in turn, their sub-contractors’ processes and procedures for dealing with waste electrical and electronic equipment. The audit ends therefore at the point at which goods are sealed into a container for shipping. The audit has assessed only the state of the processes at the time of the audit taking place.

  2. Exporting functional cathode ray tube sets is legal and enables working televisions and computer monitors to be reused, often in developing countries. This is an established principle of European Law under the Waste Framework Directive.

For media enquiries please contact:

Diana Leahy, Media Communications Officer (Environment)
Tel: 01962 847666
E-mail: diana.leahy@hants.gov.uk