BBC Panorama puts focus on illegal WEEE exports

The BBCs Panorama programme is set to bring the issue of illegal WEEE exports from the UK into focus tonight (May 16) by claiming to show broken TV sets collected at London civic amenity sites ending up on a toxic dump in West Africa.

The show, entitled Track My Trash, involves tracking equipment being placed inside TV sets, which, according to Panorama, are then exported overseas where they end up being taken apart by children searching for precious metals.

A promotional picture for tonights BBC Panorama programme, Track My Trash
A promotional picture for tonights BBC Panorama programme, Track My Trash

It is being shown on the same day as a new report published by campaign group the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) which has previously largely focused on wildlife-related issues also claims to expose how WEEE from CA sites and businesses in the UK is being smuggled to dump sites in developing countries.

A synopsis of tonights Panorama explains that the show will explore: How does a broken TV thrown out at a council site in London end up 3,000 miles away on a toxic dump in West Africa where children scavenge for metal waste in a cocktail of poisonous fumes?

Using tracking equipment inside broken TV sets, Panorama investigates the illegal market in electronic waste – and the recycling companies whose green credentials may not be all they claim, it adds.

A trailer for the programme on the BBC website shows reporter Raphael Rowe, who presents the half-hour long programme, being shown children in Ghana who handle copper from waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE) and the injuries that they sustain in the process.


The EIA report, entitled System Failure the UKs harmful trade in electronic waste, details investigations it carried out between mid-2009 and early-2011.

It says its investigators held a series of meetings with recycling companies and waste brokers, and scrutinised e-waste handling at several civic amenity sites.

Related links

BBC Panorama

EIA report

The investigations were confined to South-East England, but provide insights into the UK-wide problem of lax control of e-waste, it adds.

The BBC Panorama Track My Trash programme airs at 8.30pm tonight on BBC One, and will also be available via iPlayer.

Subscribe for free

Subscribe to receive our newsletters and to leave comments.

The Blog Box

Other Publications from
The Environment Media Group

Back to top