Business still being caught out by haz regs

The reclassification of some redundant IT equipment as hazardous waste is still catching companies out, according to an organisation that provides communities in the developing world with second-hand computers.

The revised regulations came into force on July 16, 2005, making many items that would have been considered non-hazardous to be reclassified.

Among the more common item that is now considered hazardous waste are cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors.

Companies producing more than 200kg of hazardous waste in a year now have to register with the Environment Agency and the bulky CRT monitors are tripping up many a firm.

David Sogan, founder of Digital Links International, a charity that exports IT equipment to developing countries, said anyone who disposed of more than ten 17″ monitors per year had effectively become a producer of hazardous waste overnight.

“Many businesses are unaware of the new regulations and haven’t begun to consider how they will dispose of their unwanted computers,” said Mr Sogan.

Of 30 firms contacted by Digital Links, he said, only one had heard of the new regulations.

He said his company, and those like it, offered a low-cost way of disposing of redundant computer equipment with the knowledge that the donation would help the education and economic opportunities of people in the developing world.

Big-name organisations like Shell, Barclays, Ford, Reuters and the Guardian have all used Digital Links and hard drives are wiped of data to the same standards used by spy-centre GCHQ, ensuring companies are not giving away any sensitive information with their hi-tech rubbish.

The charity has also set up an environmental programme to break down and recycle computers which have reached the end of their useful life in Africa, addressing concerns that schemes such as its own can shift the problem of hazardous waste disposal onto developing countries.

Because of the logistics involved Digital Links only accepts donations of 25 or more items, be they base units or monitors, and will collect the equipment and ensure it is reused or disposed of in line with all existing legislation.

Hazardous waste producers must still be registered with the EA, and will need a consignment note from the agency for each collection.

By Sam Bond

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