Charity slams government’s e-waste failures

The government is failing to enforce European regulations governing the disposal of electronic waste, according to Computer Aid International.

The charity, which recycles old computers for use in developing nations, today launched a campaign to pressure the government into granting the Environment Agency the resources it needs to enforce the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive. The directive holds IT equipment manufacturers responsible for the disposal of their products.

The campaign calls for a clamp-down on fraudulent organisations that offer to recycle electrical equipment but merely send them to highly polluting waste dumps in West Africa and China.

In August 2008, environmental charity Greenpeace published a report in which it claimed to have found discarded NHS computers containing confidential patient data in a Ghanaian toxic waste dump.

“It’s imperative that the government clamps down on fraudulent traders posing as legitimate reuse and recycling organisations, who are enticing unwitting UK businesses to use them for disposal of electrical equipment,” said Louise Richards, CEO of Computer Aid International.

“According to Consumers International, in Nigeria alone more than half a million second-hand PCs arrive in Lagos every month, yet only one in four works,” she added.

IT departments are beginning to wake up to their environmental impact but most ‘Green IT‘ initiatives to date have focused on energy efficiency. Improper electrical waste disposal, however, can have a more immediate detrimental effect on the environment than carbon emissions.

Further reading

Wasted journeys
Just how much damage is IT doing to the environment? A new report investigates

Green IT in action
Green IT is a tangle of technology, branding, power bills, climate politics and public perception. But some CIOs are making progress – and without impacting the bottom line

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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