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WEEE may do more harm than good - charity COMMENT UPDATE

The WEEE directive aimed at curbing electrical waste may actually damage the environment while wrecking educational opportunities for African schoolchildren.

This is according to childrens educational charity Digital Links International which takes computers donated from UK companies and refurbishes them for African school children.

The Waste Electrical Equipment Directive (WEEE) places responsibility for disposing of redundant electrical equipment on the manufacturers.

But Digital Links argues that while the directive recognises that reuse is the best form of recycling it provides no incentive or targets to encourage manufacturers to do this.

Digital Links chief executive David Sogan said: Data cleansing and refurbishing computers is more expensive than simply crushing and recycling them. It is therefore likely that top-of-the-range newer second hand equipment will still be refurbished and resold, but any slightly older yet still fully functional equipment will be crushed and recycled.

The manufacture of one desktop computer uses 1.8 tonnes of raw materials including 240 kilograms of fossil fuels. Digital Links is urging companies to donate their computers directly to them to save them from being crushed and provide educational opportunities for African children.
 
17/4/07: I'm in agreement with this, but there are also people in our own country who could also lose the oppportunity to obtain a computer to help their education. There is a lower cost to this excercise as well, as we don't need to ship abroad. The poorest in many communities will be hit. However, I do believe that in Section 5.2 of the DTI guidelines, that compliance schemes are urged to prefer charitable organisations who want access to these goods.
Posted by Robert Alexander, Enfys Foundation

17/4/07: Possibly charitable organisations like Digital Links should look to enter discussions with the likes of Dell and others to become preferred reusers of their collected equipment.
Posted by Rob Morton, Redeem plc



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