Electronic waste can have a very expensive effect on the environment. So why is talk so cheap?

Repost from e-waste UK /With so much scrutiny and debate going on over the issues surrounding eWaste, why isn’t more being done? Is it time to simply stop talking and start acting? Is bureaucracy getting in the way? Or is it vital that we carefully evaluate every step of the actions we take?It would appear that currently there are several occurrences of electronic waste being disposed of illegally around the world, particularly in Africa.The Independent Newspaper recently reported that Greenpeace has uncovered evidence that UK electronic waste, such as TVs and computers, are being illegally dumped in Nigeria.It’s certainly thought by many that Lagos in Nigeria and Accra in Ghana are being used as dumping grounds for toxic European electronic waste, which is being disguised as second-hand goods.But what’s the truth?Greenpeace had its own methods of finding out, which they reported as follows: “Acting on a tip-off, we launched our operation to see just where some electronic waste was ending up. We took an unfixable TV, fitted it with a tracking device and brought it to the UK’s Hampshire county council for recycling. Instead of being safely dismantled in the UK or Europe, like it should have been, the council’s ‘recycling’ company, BJ Electronics, passed it on as ’second-hand goods’ and it was shipped off to Nigeria to be sold or scrapped and dumped.”But even in the light of such events, it’s important not to be too alarmist. However, we should certainly strive to be decisive.What is important is that we put in place the most effective ways to address the issues.Tony Roberts, from Computer Aid International, believes there is no mystery about what needs to be done. He thinks the way forward is for every country to build the end-of-life processing facilities required to handle their own eWaste.He also points out that the best recycling centres exist in the countries that have an effective green and environmental lobby that can force their government to put end-of-life recycling capacity in place.Mr Roberts lists five central demands that he claims must be made of government authorities:1. Outlaw the importation of foreign Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) 2. Outlaw the dumping of domestic eWaste (WEEE) 3. Compel the re-use of EEE through social re-use programs for rural hospitals and disadvantaged schools 4. Compel the recycling of all WEEE at the end of it useful life 5. Resource the effective policing of these laws and prosecution of those who break this lawWhat do you think is realistic for us to accomplish? And exactly how should we achieve it?If you are an IT Manager, or responsible for the recycling of WEEE in your organisation, are you fully aware of the legal issues and what you can achieve?F.Read more about the views of Tony Roberts from Computer Aid International.Read more about Greenpeace using GPS to track illegal e-waste in Nigeria.

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Dec 15, 2009 by