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Countering Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Illegal Trade

A project to assess the phenomenon and design new strategies

While the demand for electronic equipment increases, so does the illegal trade and disposal of electronic waste, known as e-waste or WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment). Due to the hazardous substances contained in it, WEEE has the potential to become a huge threat to human health and environment. Additionally, it contains some metals of interest to black market actors and organized criminal groups. To enhance the capabilities of countries to combat this growing phenomenon, UNICRI and its partners have launched the Countering WEEE Illegal Trade (CWIT) project, funded by the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013).

The project was carried out by a consortium of seven partners:

  • Compliance & Risks - C&R
  • Cross-Border Research Association - CBRA
  • International Criminal Police Organisation - INTERPOL (Leading agency)
  • United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute - UNICRI
  • United Nations University - UNU
  • Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipment Forum AISBL - WEEE Forum
  • Zanasi & Partners - Z&P

The main objectives of the CWIT project were to:

  • Estimate the volume of e-waste generated in Europe;
  • Assess the type of companies involved in exporting WEEE;
  • Analyze the involvement of organized criminal groups and the types of crime associated with illegal trade in WEEE;
  • Develop a detailed understanding of the destinations and routes used for illegal e-waste shipments;

UNICRI was particularly involved in the following activities:

  • Identification of existing initiatives (studies/projects) on the issue;
  • Data collection through questionnaires and interviews to identify and evaluate existing policies;
  • Definition of organized crime in the global distribution of WEEE,
  • Production of a number of policy and legal recommendations;
  • Organization of the final conference for the project.

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Download the summary report of the project below: