Media Release: Illegal export of eWaste unacceptable, says Viridor – response to BBC Panorama

Viridor cutting...

ONE of Scotland’s leading recycling, renewable energy and waste management companies today described as “unacceptable” the illegal export of eWaste identified by unscrupulous ‘underground’ companies as part of a BBC Panorama investigation.

The episode entitled, ‘Track my trash’, broadcast on 16th May 2011, exposed the illegal export of broken waste electronic and electrical equipment to countries such as Nigeria and Ghana.

During the broadcast, Dr. Margaret Bates, lecturer in Sustainable Waste Management at the University of Northampton, said: “There is an underground market in dealing in electronic waste. So, if the economics say it will cost you money to do it properly here, or you can make money to break the law overseas, you’re going to make money if you don’t care about breaking the law.”

UK Recycling and Waste Management Company of the Year, Viridor recycles eWaste from 96 per cent of Scottish local authorities at one of Europe’s leading specialist centres for the recycling of electronic equipment in Perth, Scotland.

Says a spokesperson: “The company, which has invested over £10m at the Friarton Road site in recent years, gives new life to some 90 per cent of components arriving on site by first safely deconstructing electrical items using a combination of the latest recycling technologies with skilled professional operatives.

“The Scottish site recycled over 350,000 televisions at the site in the last year – a 60 per cent year-on-year increase as Scots upgraded for the digital switchover, and 230,000 fridges.”

Viridor’s Scottish regional director, Colin Paterson, said:

“The illegal export of eWaste is unlawful, dangerous and unacceptable full stop. BBC Panorama is right to expose what Dr. Bates describes as the ‘underground market in dealing in electronic waste’.

“As in other areas, Viridor has led Scottish investment in a European centre of excellence for the sustainable management of eWaste. We’re rightly proud of our recycling hub and skilled Scottish workforce.

“Scottish councils, companies and communities can rest assured of our stringent compliance with local, national and international regulations and to those seeking to cut corners the message is clear – illegal eWaste exports won’t pay.”

The site was visited in May by Scottish Environment Minister, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, who said at the time: “The SNP is committed to boosting recycling and diverting waste from landfill. Viridor’s key infrastructure is vital in helping companies, councils and communities in that task.

“Nearly one million tonnes of Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) is discarded in the UK each year which indicates the scale of the problem.

“Here in Perth, we have part of the answer to that problem. With over 90 employees, Viridor’s site is one of the top facilities across Europe and securely deconstructs WEEE from across Scotland.

“The need to reduce, reuse and recycle is something we all have to take responsibility for. Working together – national government, local government, private companies and individuals – we can hit the ambitious and necessary targets that have been set.

“Last year, the SNP Government published Scotland’s first ever Zero Waste strategy and we are determined to build on a record which has seen big improvements in recycling rates and reductions in waste going to landfill.”



  • Part of the FTSE 250 Pennon Group, Viridor is recognised as Scotland’s leading recycling, renewable energy and resource efficiency partner working with 96 per cent of Scottish local authorities and some of the biggest names in Scottish business such as Scottish Power, RBS, BAE Systems and Coca Cola Enterprises.
  • Operating the nation’s most advanced network of recycling and waste infrastructure, the company is investing up to £800m in ‘next generation’ green infrastructure to turn Scottish zero waste policy into practice.
  • In addition to advancing proposals for merchant facilities, of the three Scottish local authority 25-year residual waste procurements underway, Viridor is one of the final two bidders in each.
  • All sites and services are operated under the company’s business management system incorporating ISO14001 (Environmental Management), ISO9001 (Quality Management) and OHSAS 18001 (Health and Safety) standards, and formally accredited by BSI. These are the highest recognised international standards, ensuring continuous improvement in these key areas and providing assurance to customers and communities alike.
  • Viridor won ‘UK Recycling and Waste Management Business of the Year’ award at the 2010 national recycling awards. The company is also a two time award winner in the DEFRA-sponsored Awards for Excellence in Waste and Recycling (having won the ‘Innovation in Design’ and ‘Best Partnership’ categories in 2009 and 2008).

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Contact: Martin Grey
Phone: 07717797133