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Old computers, new problems

Posted by Kate Solomon on 27th October 2008

Do you know what happened to the last PC you got rid of? Whether you took it to be recycled, donated it for reuse or sold it on, there’s a chance its final resting place is actually in a smouldering heap in a developing country.

The WEEE directive, intended to prevent our e-waste from being dumped in landfill sites in the UK, has led to some enterprising law-breakers taking the problem to a whole new level. E-waste cowboys are dumping shipments of trash computer equipment in countries that don’t have the facilities to deal with it:

• Just one in four of these PCs actually work at time of shipping
• The toxic fumes from burning PCs cause health problems
• Children paid to scavenge through dangerous materials

We’ve been working with IT charity Computer Aid International to raise awareness of and hopefully find a solution to this problem with a wide-reaching new campaign and our first government e-petition.

The real problem is that the government has brought in an ambitious directive to bring the UK’s e-waste stream under control, but has little resource dedicated to policing it – with enough support, our petition can help bring about a change to this.

So do your homework before taking the first disposal option available for your obsolete computer equipment and join our campaign for action against this toxic trade by signing the petition here.

Kate Solomon