20 February 2009

TVs were checked, says exporter to Nigeria

The electronics exporter at the centre of media reports alleging defunct televisions are being shipped to Nigeria has told letsrecycle.com that it is acting properly and within the law, writes Chris Sloley.

And, Walthamstow-based BJ Electronics, which was named as the depot from which a damaged television was shipped to Nigeria for resale has also criticised the way Sky News reported on the Greenpeace investigation.

Televisions waiting to be tested and exported at BJ Electronics' Walthamstow depot

Televisions waiting to be tested and exported at BJ Electronics’ Walthamstow depot

The comments from BJ Electronics come in the wake of an undercover investigation undertaken by Sky News, The Independent and Greenpeace.

Greenpeace claimed BJ Electronics had bought an irreparably broken TV which had come from a civic amenity site in Basingstoke operated by contractor Hopkins for Hampshire county council. Hopkins had sold the TV for reuse to BJ Electronics and it had then been shipped to Nigeria for resale (see letsrecycle.com story).

Today Joe Benson, manger of BJ Electronics, said: “We are checking everything that comes in here, we are not buying in waste. Anything that is broken, we are disposing of properly, we know what we are doing. We check machines and then we send them to Africa.”

He added: “Somebody down there doesn't like us, it's sabotage. We have a product test here and as long as the set is alright then everything is okay and the product test will pass it. This year the Environment Agency came round to say that they are happy with the product test.”

The company – which provides audio and visual equipment to a range of customers in African countries such as Ivory Coast, Ghana, South Africa and Nigeria – said that it would be investigating the potential for legal action against Sky News if Hampshire county council decides to sever its existing contract in the wake of the report.

Test

BJ Electronics, which purchases electrical and electronic items from Hampshire county council among other local authorities, claimed that it had performed all the duties expected under the regulations that governed them at the time of the Greenpeace investigation which took place in 2008.

BJ Electronics' testing station for recycled television sets

BJ Electronics’ testing station for recycled television sets

Mr Benson claimed that under the test being used in 2008, an engineer checked that the plug was in operational order and safe to use – without plugging it in – and this has since been changed by the Environment Agency so that they have to check that they can get a picture for the set to be passed.

According to Mr Benson, the television in the reports had had its plug tested and it was safe, however, under the new test it would have failed.

Aware that the television set at the heart of the media coverage was not fit for use, Mr Benson claimed that the testing system was not infallible. He said: “If you are dealing with a 1,000 TVs, then maybe one could possibly get through. In this industry you get 95% good, and you can still repair others.”

Legal

The electronics recycling firm explained that they had invited Sky News to visit the plant but the offer had never been accepted and that the news channel had instead opted to install a secret camera overlooking their East London depot.

Mr Benson said: “We invited Sky before to come and they didn't. They are trying their best to bring somebody down. If you don't come to people for their side of things then that is just sabotage.”

Mr Benson said that the company is cautiously investigating legal action against the news channel. He said: “We are currently having our lawyers look into what has been said and what we can do. If we lose our contract to collect material from Hampshire sites then I will definitely launch a legal challenge against Sky, whatever the cost.”

BJ Electronics was one of the principle companies mentioned in the investigation, alongside Hopkins Recycling, which manages Hampshire's household waste and recycling centres.

London-based ERP, the producer compliance scheme contracted to collect WEEE from Hampshire's civic amenity sites, yesterday said that it was not connected in any way with the material which the investigation had claimed ended up in Nigeria (see letsrecycle.com story).


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