E-waste strife, recycling computers ethically

Summary:I guess you could call it a usual day in the office, phone ringing, guys out on a pretty big collection (7.5 tonne truck filled to the brim with old IT hardware) and Kev stripping down perfectly working P4m laptops (contraband customs and Excise seizures)- life's all tickedy boo.

I guess you could call it a usual day in the office, phone ringing, guys out on a pretty big collection (7.5 tonne truck filled to the brim with old IT hardware) and Kev stripping down perfectly working P4m laptops (contraband customs and Excise seizures)- life's all tickedy boo. The only downside is the economy. It hasn't had a big impact on the volumes of computers we're recycling, but there's a smattering of potential customers that won't consider paying to recycle their e-waste- even though the majority is hazardous.

The thing is, what was once one of the driving forces behind the idea of a psuedo licenced recycler offering their service for free might have just died a very quick and sudden death. The scrap metal market, upon which a number of recycling companies have depended has literally died over night. Scrap steel prices have plummeted from £200 per tonne to £70- given that you need 300 empty computer cases to make a tonne, the return on work invested is now pretty poor.

Another potential avenue- that of export of recycled computers to developing countries is coming under fire from the Environment Agency and Customs and Excise. The export of WEEE (computers, monitors etc) has long been a controversial subject, with a number of recyclers using export as a way to get rid of non working, very old equipment quickly- and making a quick wedge from it as well.

Although the ports are being policed, there are still loopholes in the whole idea. Export within Europe is still permitted and e-waste is flowing steadily through Cyprus and then onto developing countries.

I'm hoping (in a sick kind of way) that a global economic meltdown might just put a stop to the export of computer waste, it'll become too costly to buy at the other end. Saying all that, with the drop in the economy here and the need to dispose of e-waste, no matter the economic climate, many may just opt for a drop in sale price and export anyway. Then again, our obsolete computer waste sells in developing Countries in $USD, so right now, an exporter (approved or otherwise) can get more bang for his/ her buck.

I guess looking at the whole picture, we'll now see who's in this game for the long haul and who will move on to the next big idea.

Topics: Hardware

About

Director at Computer Displays UK Limited, a company trading as IT-Green. A Specialist in the processing of ewaste, IT data security, WEEE and business wastes. Manages Environmental Permitting, Planning, EMS, Environmental Policies and production of recycling processes for treating IT wastes from clients. Produces in-house asset trackin... Full Bio

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