Recycling has changed considerably over the past few decades. The industry has moved beyond the old Rag and Bone man and Scrap yard to encompass paper, glass, plastics, electronics, wood, building rubble, steel, copper, aluminium and lead. In a similar vein, the processing of waste products has evolved to include both mechanical and manual segregation. Mechanical processing now encompasses plant that is able to crush, grind and segregate recycled products into it’s constituent materials. The use of electromagnets, chemical processes, screening, sieving and computer controlled weight recognition means that more resources are put back into the manufacturing chain than ever before.
However, manual recycling methods still remain at the forefront of the industry, with initial segregation processes incorporating skilled labor in the dis-assembly of such items as computers and Television screens and separation of household wastes into plastics, card and paper. In the UK, licensing schemes (known as permitting) separate recycling businesses into those that segregate the wastes and those that mechanically treat the resultant resources. The outcome is a system that allows for the collection, treatment and dissemination of various resources extracted from wastes to processing facilities, which can then re-distribute the resultant raw materials to manufacturing related businesses.
The key issue with this system of recycling is that after the mechanical processing process has been completed, various hazardous waste byproducts are left behind. The manual processing company is usually left out-of-pocket as a result of this. The alternative is to not manually process the waste in the first place and instead sell it on for export outside of the European Union. This somewhat illegal and dubious process means that the manual processing company makes an immediate profit for little work, leaving the country receiving the wastes with a rather big headache.
Policing this sector of the recycling industry remains a key issue for the UK’s Environment Agency. Port authorities have intercepted a number of container loads full of untreated, hazardous wastes. The containers have been, however, labeled by the recycling company as containing valuable resources or working electronic equipment. In a similar vein, container loads of Rubbish Collection Service In Wolverhampton waste that aren’t intercepted at UK ports are sometimes sent back from the destination port, having been intercepted by authorities in the destination country. These containers are typically untraceable and the UK’s Environment Agency are then tasked with sorting through the wastes in a forensic manner, trying to find out the source of the rubbish.
There is however a further more serious issue with the export of untreated wastes. A number of Computer Recycling companies, having won tenders from Local Authorities or the National Health Service, are paid to take away their waste computer equipment. However, having been tasked with the destruction of confidential data and removal of Asset labelling/ details, they simply containerize the equipment and sell it for export outside of the European Union. The result is that hard drives are sold on the black market for data mining and collection of personal information and bank account details. Any hazardous wastes, plastics and resources that can’t be extracted are instead burnt or dumped, polluting local land, poisoning water supplies and killing local flora and fauna. We’re not just talking about some localized issues here though, this is occurring on a global scale and effecting hundreds of acre of land. Preventing such issues can only be done at the source. This means cementing legislation that the UK implemented in 2007. Policing attitudes and crime prevention are now at the forefront of the UK’s Envirnonment Agencie’s work.