For the last 3 years I have become increasingly concerned about the gap between the zeal in europe for passing new environmental laws to combat environmental problems and the seeming lack of much or any enforcement on the ground. It came to my attention on the WEEE directive, a much needed directive I worked on in the commission, and landed up finding out that you could bypass the rules with seeming impunity. But, this is not an isolated case. There is very little on the ground implementation by many companies or governments. NGOs, governments, politicians and the commission must realise that with no recorded inspections in a country means it is likely that there is little compliance on the ground. But, there seems to be a conspiracy of silence. Making sure the laws we have are working is not exciting. Having done it, it is often dull. But, the systematic nitty gritty work makes sure that the rules lead to improved results on the ground and improvements for our environment. It is something that I regret many NGOs run away from, work to get the law passed, and run like hell from making sure it actually it iw working in reality. Greenpeace is an isolated example of a NGO who gets their hands dirty on making sure the rules are working.
Today, ENDS reported, see below, a clear and disturbing case of wholesale illegality in spain on electronic waste. Spain is not an isolated case.
When resources are scarce, perhaps is a good time for governments and ngos to shift resources to making sure that the rules we have on the statute books are working on the ground. It would improve our precious environment, restore the rule of law and reward companies and people doing the right thing.
WEEE theft on the rise in Catalonia, say police
Monday 22 August 2011
The economic crisis is turning the theft of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) into a “modus vivendi”, according to a specialist environmental police unit (Seprona) based in Girona, north-eastern Spain.
Almost half of the 185 charges brought by the unit up to the end of July related to the theft of waste domestic appliances from official collection points, Seprona reported last week.
Specialised gangs “break into the collection points and take the waste material either to repair and resell it or to break it up”, said regional chief Miguel Pelegrina.
A recent report from Spain’s environmental prosecutor has revealed that massive WEEE fraud is occuring throughout the country. According to Ecolec – the largest WEEE recycling scheme – about 70% of the waste is escaping official channels.