Computer producers must be responsible on pollution

Computer Aid International has called for IT manufacturers to be more responsible for the environmental cost of their products.

The organisation has produced a report: Green ICT: what producers must do which blames original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for poor practice and pollution in production.

They say that producers need to take responsibility for the entire life-cycle of their products.

The report argues that most environmental damage of computing happens during manufacturing; for instance, 80% of the energy used over a PC's lifecycle is used before it is switched on for the first time.

The report cites mining materials and the excessive use of toxic chemicals in production as the source of the enormous carbon footprint made by manufacturing and its global sourcing and distribution chains.

Computer Aid International CEO Tony Roberts said: "In Europe all ICT manufactures including HP, Samsung, Nokia and Apple have a legal duty to fund the end of life recycling of equipment that they produced.

"Within Europe manufacturers fulfil this requirement of corporate social responsibility and are justifiably proud of their green credentials.

"However we would argue that they have exactly the same moral obligations where their products are sold in Africa, Asia and elsewhere.

"Most developing countries are entirely without the kind of facilities necessary to re-use and recycle ICTs and to recover the precious metals and other composite materials before they pollute the environment and threaten public health and safety."

The report calls for producers to be responsible for the end-of-life management of their goods in all countries they operate in, not just in rich developed countries, so that all nations can build the operational capacity to re-use IT equipment and to recycle e-waste.

It says producers need to shift the cost of toxic, wasteful design away from communities and the environment back to themselves.

They call for producers to be forced to include the real costs of their goods through wide-ranging programmes that encourage eco-design. Alison Brown


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Waste & resource management
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