Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

FP7

CWIT Report Summary

Project reference: 312605
Funded under: FP7-SECURITY

Periodic Report Summary 2 - CWIT (CWIT - Countering WEEE Illegal Trade)

Project Context and Objectives:
The Countering WEEE Illegal Trade (CWIT) project provided a set of recommendations to the European Commission and law enforcement authorities that will assist them in countering the illegal trade of WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment), also known as ‘e-waste’, within and from Europe. Funded by the European Union’s Framework Program 7, this two-year security research project brought together a group of experts skilled in the fields of WEEE analysis, crime analysis, supply chain security and database management.

Only around 3.3 million tons of the estimated total of 9.45 million tons of WEEE was officially reported to authorities as collected and treated across Europe in 2012. WEEE contains materials such as gold, copper and palladium, which makes it very valuable on the black market, attracting illegal single operators as well as fluid criminal networks following a business model.

WEEE also contains hazardous substances such as mercury and cadmium. Therefore, illegal WEEE handling, often in poorer countries, leads to huge health issues and environmental pollution. At the same time, European Union Member States are losing a vast amount of rare earth metals and other important minerals due to increasing illicit activities, poor compliance rates, and limited enforcement activities in WEEE.

These issues call for increased attention and enhanced enforcement in the context of WEEE trade, transport and treatment. Meaning that the governmental response should go beyond the inspection style approach, to thoroughly analyse the illegal trade, investigate suspects and suspected companies and cross over crimes, such as money laundering or fraud. The CWIT project has been established to identify the policy, regulatory, procedural and technical gaps as observed in today’s business environment, and to suggest tangible improvements in a range of areas.

CWIT addresses WEEE-related industries, governmental policy and enforcement actors – to enhance capabilities to seriously reduce illicit activities around WEEE in the future.

More specifically, the outputs of the CWIT project comprised a set of recommendations related to the European legal and policy framework, taking into account the objectives and constraints of all key government and business stakeholders. The project also provided recommendations on future research and technologies that would contribute to the reduction of illegal trade of WEEE.

In addition, the CWIT project established a multi-layer platform for information exchange among the various actors involved in countering WEEE illegal trade.

Key stakeholders for the project included: EU-level policy makers and regulators; national law enforcement agencies, including police, customs and environmental inspection agencies; and WEEE treatment and electronics sectors and industries.

In achieving these objectives, the CWIT consortium also:
• Estimated the volume of WEEE generated in Europe;
• Identified typologies of actors involved in the WEEE export market, and modus operandi;
• Analysed the involvement of organised crime in the global distribution of WEEE; and,
• Developed an understanding of the destinations and routes used by perpetrators.

Project Results:
The Countering WEEE Illegal Trade (CWIT) project commenced in September 2013. This two year project is financed under the European Commission FP7 financial instrument. The CWIT consortium is composed of partners with expertise in the WEEE area, crime analysis and the management of large databases. Seven partners make up the consortium (INTERPOL (coordinators),
United Nations University (scientific coordinators), Compliance & Risks Ltd., Cross Border Research Association, WEEE Forum, United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, Zanasi & Partners).

This report outlines the work carried out in the fulfilment of the project objectives during the second reporting period month 13 (M1) – month 24 (M24). During this time period the project partners focused on collecting information for the market assessment as well as cases for the criminal analysis, that enabled the design of a set of recommendations. During this period 16 deliverables became due for submission and eight milestones were achieved. All tasks proceeded in an efficient fashion and all deliverables due by the end of Year 2 of the project were submitted by mid-October.

WP1 – Management and Coordination

The objective of work package 1 (WP1) was to coordinate and monitor the progress of the CWIT project and to ensure the achievement of the project objectives. The coordinating organisation established procedures for the consortium’s internal communication, for efficient engagement with partners at all professional levels and more specifically, on various situations emerging from multi-disciplinary work. The administrative and financial management of the project were also the responsibility of the coordinating organisation. A High-Level Advisory Board was set to provide advice and support to the Consortium.

WP2 – WEEE Actors and Amounts

The objective of work package 2 (WP2) was to produce an overview of the European WEEE industries and the relevant actors and parties in these industries with a particular focus on the end-users involved in the fight against the illegal trade of WEEE. Activities performed: mapping of all the relevant stakeholders; analysis of the distribution of WEEE; gathering and analysis of existing initiatives, projects and studies. All this information was made available to all project partners via the C2P information management system and served as input to all the other work packages, (‘knowledge database’). In addition, a section for sharing the bibliography collected during the project with the general public was created in the CWIT website (LibraWEEE).

WP3 – Legal Framework

Work package 3 (WP3) built on the information gathered in WP2 and its objective was to provide a global overview of the current legislation in place at international, European, and national levels. By engaging with stakeholders through questionnaires, WP3 comparatively evaluated different national political and regulatory environments on WEEE. WP3 also delivered input for recommendations on best policies that support actions countering illegal trade of WEEE.

WP4 – Market Assessment

The aim of work package 4 (WP4) was to build up an up-to-date and accurate picture of the WEEE operators and the industry that is built around the trade in WEEE. Based on the information and identification of WEEE operators in WP2, this WP gathered all key facts and figures on the electrical and electronic (EEE) amounts placed on the EU market and resulting WEEE flows. An estimation of the total volume of WEEE generated in Europe was performed and a conceptual model of the WEEE stream including lifespans and destinations of discarded equipment was created. The resulting market assessment described all reported flows and the resulting gap analysis on missing quantities is the starting point for the crime analysis scheduled in WP5.

WP5 – Crime Analysis

The objectives of work package 5 (WP5) were to conduct a comprehensive study of the involvement of organized crime groups in the global distribution of WEEE; to identify the specific criminal activities and modi (modus) operandi associated with illegal WEEE shipments; and to provide an estimation of the volume of WEEE that is generated and illegally traded. Law enforcement and compliance gaps were analysed and a system of best practices to mitigate the illegal trade in WEEE was developed.

WP6 – Recommendations

The objective of work package 6 (WP6) was to provide a set of recommendations to government actors and industries involved in the WEEE stream. WP6 aimed to heighten awareness of the WEEE issue, facilitate discussions between stakeholders and increase the resilience of the WEEE industry against illegal trade. The recommendations were delivered in the form of reports specifically tailored to the target audience. A strategic roadmap was created to equip the European Commission with the knowledge to guide future research and technology development.

WP7 – Dissemination

The objective of Work Package 7 was to ensure that the results of the project have a lasting and permanent impact on European society and that stakeholders can use these results, which are likely to have diverse audiences, from members of the larger FP7/EC community, to other research organizations and other government departments – both within the EU and outside. Several of the partners have large networks through which results and recommendations have been shared and will be shared after the closure of the project. The dissemination will, therefore, have to be achieved through a range of traditional and new communication channels and media strategies.
Potential Impact:
As the project progressed, relevant raw data emerged and was available to analyse and support the development of the final recommendations. These results may be grouped according to three categories; empirical results, conceptual and methodological results, and policy results. In addition, the results of the CWIT project also looked at the socio-economic impact of the project on society.
Empirical results
The initial phase of the CWIT project concentrated on identifying the WEEE actors, collecting information on quantity of WEEE in Europe, the relevant legislation framework for WEEE the supply chain, and identified the global state-of-the-art research into WEEE. An important project result is the establishment of databases which supported the on-going work of the project and presented a valuable overview of the global WEEE industry.
WEEE is one of the fastest growing waste streams worldwide of which, in Europe, it is estimated that only 40% is documented as collected, and some of the CWIT partners are at the forefront of the WEEE industry, such as the WEEE Forum. The project identified WEEE stakeholders in Europe and internationally and has built up a global network of WEEE and enforcement experts who are contributing to the work carried out in several work packages and who are benefiting from the outcomes of the project.
After identifying more than 1250 organisations in Europe, the project has created a network gathering more than 470 entries representing the key WEEE stakeholder groups in Europe and outside Europe, in order to engage and ensure that the results and recommendations of the project are properly disseminated. Stakeholders which are included in this database include those involved in the life cycle of WEEE and therefore have the responsibility for the production of electronics and electrical equipment and the management of the WEEE; those involved in the decision making and development of the regulatory framework; and those involved with the implementation and enforcement of environmental law.
Using a methodical and systematic approach to the identification of data and data sources, the project produced a comprehensive and meaningful state-of-the-art knowledge base of the WEEE domain, a valuable resource for European stakeholders.
A database has been set up, enabling structured and consistent gathering of many different sources of information regarding EEE put on the market (POM), WEEE generated amounts and collected and complementary treatment amounts. Data on the amounts put on the market and on the amounts collected per Member State have been gathered from different data sources and stored in a database that meets the needs of WP4.
In parallel with the identification of the WEEE community an overview of the legislative framework which support the European and global WEEE market was analysed. The central result of the project will be a new WEEE toolkit to assist those involved in the fight against illegal trade in WEEE in the identification of and mitigation of barriers to compliance.
A site visit to a treatment plant in Seville, Spain, enriched the empirical understanding of the CWIT project partners.
Conceptual and methodological results
One of the primary aims of the CWIT project was the quantification and modelling of the WEEE supply chain. The fact that only around 3.3 million tonnes of the estimated total of 9.45 million tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), was officially collected, treated and reported to authorities across Europe in 2012, raises several concerns among the various WEEE stakeholders.
There is no universally agreed standardised classification of EEE and WEEE at the moment. This lack of common framework hampers integration, processing and validation of available data during the project. In order to streamline data gathering for EEE and WEEE amounts data was collected using three existing classification systems (the existing WEEE Directive, the recast WEEE directive and the categories of the WEEE Forum) that are commonly employed for calculating WEEE statistics in the EU. This work presented a harmonised approach to the classification of the WEEE. The linking of the established “UNU keys” for the classification of WEEE to the other common classification systems is a prerequisite for the detailed market assessment being performed in WP4.
The understanding of the challenges experienced by actors in the legitimate WEEE industry and those in detection and enforcement roles was important to the success of the project and ultimately to the recommendations.
The ultimate challenge for the project has been to plot and analyse the linkages between models for the volumes of WEEE and possible crime typologies, to understand how gaps recorded in the WEEE markets may change from one region to another, and possibly from one security challenge to another.
Policy results
The CWIT project focused in particular on the link between the quantification of WEEE in Europe, transboundary movement of WEEE, the typology of crimes associated with WEEE, and the policy recommendations that might lead to improved security within the WEEE supply chain.
An interesting finding was the reality that the magnitude of the penalties does not always correspond to a higher WEEE collection rate. Some countries (France & Italy) have higher sanctions where organised crime is involved. Some countries have administrative sanctions such as withdrawal of permits and licenses to disrupt business operations. Increasing penalties may not be practical in all EU countries depending on the judicial system.
From a law enforcement perspective, there is an immediate need for a policy adaptation and potential change. The project revealed that analysis and investigative techniques are not employed in the WEEE illegal trade. Only actions such as border inspections are currently employed by law enforcement authorities, which are mainly inspectorates or management authorities, and less police structures. This limited the ability of project CWIT researchers to clearly outline the involvement of organized crime. Globally, there are less than five countries who have acknowledged or identified that organized crime is involved in waste ( or e-waste) illegal trade, these are for example Italy or Japan. However, the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence, thus, in an effort to become preventative rather than reactive in our law enforcement efforts, it is recommended that police authorities are provided with the moral and financial support to look into the crimes related to the WEEE and waste industry. In this way, the EU will multiply chances to success in making the WEEE industry a positive indicator of the circular economy model.
The partners sought to define the problem and make recommendations based on interviews and feedback of policy makers, industry and operators involved in the WEEE supply chain, and experiences of environmental enforcement agencies. As a consequence, the project had an important result in the form of a number of recommendations and approaches for improving security decision making, including decision rationale based on input of societal or value-based factors.
Potential socio-economic and societal impact
The CWIT project presented a socio-economic impact through its deliverables and recommendations, in order to raise of awareness of the impact of the illegal trade in WEEE. Economic drivers in the illegal trade of WEEE along the whole value chain were analysed in depth during the project. For example, between 300 to 600 million EUR are lost due to disposal of WEEE by consumers who are either ill-informed or disregard the potential for recycling within the EU. An environmental damage that could be measured is the CO2 equivalent emitted from 84.000 tonnes of fridge compressors stolen before collection of WEEE each year, which equals to 5 million modern passenger car on the road. The air pollution is identified as one of the primary reasons for loss of lives in some countries, generating immense health costs, with an example in France reaching 100 billion EUR each year.
The CWIT project highlights that the WEEE industry in Europe is undermined by criminal elements involved in the illegal trade of waste and this jeopardises the ability of legitimate industry to exist. However, the dimension of this illegal trade has yet to be determined from a law enforcement perspective, given the lack of cases, lack of analysis and investigations. Generally, the community refers to the judiciary, prosecuting and convicting perpetrators as being a weak link, however, these will only be possible with proper investigative approaches.
The reality is that the illegal trade in WEEE, as well as other waste streams, threatens the global economy, the sustainable retrieval to natural resources, and exponentially increases the risk of harmful pollutants being released into the environment where proper treatment of WEEE or waste does not take place.
The societal impact of the CWIT project is significant. The main societal benefit is that the quality of life will be improved: less pollution and higher human well-being, more natural resources, informed consumer choices, proper collection and treatment of WEEE and improvement of the industry outputs.


Empirical results
The initial phase of the CWIT project concentrated on identifying the WEEE actors, collecting information on quantity of WEEE in Europe, the relevant legislation framework for WEEE the supply chain, and identified the global state-of-the-art research into WEEE. An important project result is the establishment of databases which will not only support the on-going work of the project but also will present a valuable overview of the global WEEE industry that this research has revealed.
WEEE is one of the fastest growing waste streams worldwide of which, in Europe, it is estimated 40% is documented as collected. The project will identify the WEEE stakeholders in Europe and internationally and build a global network of WEEE and enforcement experts that will contribute to the work carried out in the several work packages and benefit from the outcomes of the project.
The project has identified more than 1200 organisation in Europe and representing the key the WEEE stakeholder groups in Europe and internationally in order to engage and ensure that the results and recommendations of the project will be disseminated widely. Stakeholders which are included in this data base include those involved in the life cycle of WEEE and therefore have the responsibility for production of electronics and electrical equipment and the management of the WEEE; those involved in the decision making and development of the regulatory framework; and those involved with the implementation and enforcement of environmental law.
Using a methodical and systematic approach to the identification of data and data sources, the project is producing a more comprehensive and more meaningful state-of-the-art knowledge base of the WEEE facts which is proving to be a valuable resource for many European agencies and industries.
A database has been set up enabling structured and consistent gathering of many different sources of information regarding EEE Put On the Market, WEEE generated amounts and collected and complementary treatment amounts. Data on the amounts put on the market and on the amounts collected per Member State have been gathered from different data sources and stored in a database that meets the needs of WP4.
In parallel with the identification of the WEEE community an overview of the legislative framework which support the European and global WEEE market was analysed. The central result of the project will be a new WEEE toolkit to assist those involved in the fight against illegal trade in WEEE in the identification of and mitigation of barriers to compliance.

Conceptual and methodological results
One of the primary aims of the CWIT project is the quantification and modelling of the WEEE supply chain. The fact that only around 3 million tonnes of the estimated total of 8 million tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), was officially collected, treated and reported to authorities across Europe in 2010, raises several concerns among the various WEEE stakeholders.
There is no universally agreed standardised classification of EEE and WEEE at the moment. This lack of common framework hampers integration, processing and validation of available data during the project. In order to streamline data gathering for EEE and WEEE amounts data is collected using three existing classification systems (the existing WEEE Directive, the recast WEEE directive and the categories of the WEEE Forum) that are commonly employed for calculating WEEE statistics in the EU. This work presents a harmonised approach to the classification of the WEEE. The linking of the established “UNU keys” for the classification of WEEE to the other common classification systems is a prerequisite for the detailed market assessment that will be performed in WP4
A greater understanding of the challenges experienced by actors in the legitimate WEEE industry and those in detection and enforcement roles, is important to the success of the project and ultimately to the recommendations that will be developed. The projects understanding of the WEEE Supply chain is based on the empirical data which is gathered from the WEEE industry, Statistical agencies, Customs and enforcement agencies.
The ultimately challenge for the project has been to plot and analyse the linkages between models for the volumes of WEEE and possible crime typologies, to understand how gaps recorded in the WEEE markets may change from one region to another, and possibly from one security challenge to another. A key result will be the project’s progress in drawing consequences of these linkages for the analysis of future threats.

Policy results
The CWIT project focuses in particular on the link between the quantification of WEEE in Europe, transboundary movement of WEEE, the typology of crimes associated with WEEE, and the policy recommendations that might lead to improved security within the WEEE supply chain.
In the next period of the project the partners will seek to further define the problem and make recommendations based on interviews and feedback of policy makers, industry and operators involved in the WEEE supply chain, and experiences of environmental enforcement agencies. As a consequence, the project will have as an important result a number of recommendations and approaches for improving security decision making, including decision rationale based on input of societal or value-based factors.

Potential socio-economic and societal impact
It is anticipated that the CWIT project make a socio-economic impact through its recommendations and the raising of awareness of the impact of the illegal trade in WEEE. Economic drivers on the illegal trade of WEEE along the whole value chain will be analysed in depth during the project.
The CWIT project highlights that the WEEE industry in Europe is undermined by criminal elements involved in the illegal trade of waste and this may jeopardise the ability of legitimate industry to exist. Illegal trade in WEEE also threatens the access to natural resources, and increases the risk of harmful pollutants being released into the environment where proper treatment of WEEE does not take place in authorised facilities.
The potential societal impact of the CWIT project is significant. Because of this, the result of the project will form recommendations that will have an impact across the EU and beyond.



List of Websites:
www.cwitproject.eu

Contact

Botezatu, Ioana (Project Administrator)
Tel.: +33 472 44 74 38
Fax: +33 472 44 73 51
E-mail
Record Number: 184146 / Last updated on: 2016-06-08
Information source: SESAM