Campaign calls for tougher WEEE policing

Government must take action to prevent the UK's electrical waste being illegally exported and dumped in countries such as Ghana, Nigeria and China.

Computer Aid International has launched an online petition calling for ministers to ensure the Environment Agency can police the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive.

The charity, which persuades businesses to donate unwanted computers and exports them to schools and community centres in developing countries, said Government must tighten up regulations.

It warned that cowboy commercial traders are abusing re-use and recycling initiatives and accused manufacturers of failing to take responsibility for their equipment which has been dumped in developing countries.

According to the charity’s figures, more than half a million second-hand PCs arrive in the Nigerian city of Lagos every month, but only one in four works.

Anja Ffrench, PC donations and marketing manager for Computer Aid, said organisations are donating their computer equipment in good faith, but Government must make sure the firms are reputable.

She told edie: “I think the main problem is that the Environment Agency doesn’t have the resources to police [the WEEE directive] so they are not actually able to take any companies to court to police the legislation.”

Ms Ffrench suggested that if firms taking in the equipment were effectively policed, the computers they ship abroad for reuse could be given an official verification, such as a stamp, that can then be checked at ports.

Tony Roberts, founder and director of International Programmes said existing legislation only holds manufacturers to account if their products are sold in the EU, but not within Africa, Latin America or Asia.

“Producers should be made to accept the producer pays principle on a global scale,” he said.

The online petition can be found here.

Last month, Greenpeace warned that WEEE exported to Ghana was poisoning the soil with chemicals.

Kate Martin

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