PC and server manufacturer Dell has said that the UK has the worst e-waste disposal record in the EU.
The company blamed ignorance of Europe’s electronic waste disposal law, namely the WEEE directive, for the finding that only half of UK citizens dispose of their electronic hardware in an environmentally responsible fashion. In Germany, the proportion of responsible recyclers was 80%.
Dell is in the process of reinventing itself as something of a green goddess. Earlier this month it announced a policy banning export of broken equipment to Africa for dumping. A US-based environmental pressure group the Electronics Takeback Coalition said that Dell’s e-waste policies are leading the industry.
It is important to note that electronic waste is a humanitarian as well as an environmental issue. According to a report published by environmental charity Greenpeace in August 2008, illegal electronic-waste recycling sites in Ghana employ children to salvage copper and other valuable materials materials. These children are unprotected against the harmful chemicals released by burning electronic hardware.
The charity found that some of the equipment in these sites had been exported from the EU to Africa as part of ‘used goods’ recycling schemes.