BBC Highlights E-Waste in Africa as an International Scandal
STAFFORD, England, May 21/PRNewswire/ — In the recent BBC3 programme, “Blood, Sweat & Luxuries: Gold and E-Waste” on 11 May 2010 and viewable here: http://bbc.co.uk/i/sch78/?t=38m46s IT equipment from several high profile UK public sector organisations was alleged to have made its way to site in Ghana as e-waste in Africa, where young children were seen scavenging for recoverable electronic components to sell for scrap value. This alleged illegal transportation of IT waste from the UK as has raised questions about how any organisation can ensure that its unneeded equipment is recycled, re-used or disposed of, in an acceptable and responsible fashion.
Andy Howell, Group Recycling Manager at Stone http://stonegroup.co.uk, the UK’s largest privately-owned computer hardware manufacturer and public sector specialists, comments, “European laws exist to prevent such UK IT waste ever reaching countries such as Ghana in this way. But, as this programme has highlighted, these laws may not be controlling the recycling market as well as they could be, with some recycling providers operating in the UK transporting waste illegally rather than recovering or disposing of it correctly.”
Andy Howell, Group Recycling Manager at Stone, continues, “I am bitterly disappointed and upset to see that IT hardware from highly reputable organisations has somehow made its way to rubbish sites on another continent, such as those shown in Ghana. I am certain that those organisations who were highlighted, had entered into an agreement with their recycling providers in good faith, fully trusting that the old hardware would either be recycled or that any working units would be deployed to countries like Ghana, or other African countries in desperate need of actual working IT equipment.”
Howell adds, “These UK public sector organisations and bodies have been let down badly by “cowboy suppliers” who have not taken adequate care to ensure that the systems being replaced will be responsibly recycled, and not left as e-waste in Africa. Not to mention the harm that such irresponsible behaviour is doing to the environment as a whole and specifically to the countries in which the waste is dumped.”
Andy Howell, Group Recycling Manager at Stone, explains, “There are recycling companies out there for the UK public sector who will take responsibility for recovering appropriate IT hardware and re-deploying it through the proper channels. Any equipment that is not fit for recovery will be recycled in line with the present stringent legislation and put back into manufacturing processes where possible.”
Following the full implementation of the WEEE (Waste Electronic & Electrical Equipment) Directive in 2007, Stone met the challenge head on and invested in excess of 500,000 pounds Sterling to equip its own Authorised Treatment Facility, fully licensed by the Environment Agency.
Andy Howell, Group Recycling Manager at Stone comments, “Whilst every other UK IT manufacturer engages third parties to discharge their producer obligations, Stone manages the entire lifecycle of the hardware it manufactures from ‘cradle to grave’, which in turn affords us control over the environmental impact of our products. In the past twelve months absolutely nothing has even gone to UK landfill.”
Stone has collected over 500 tonnes of redundant IT from its UK public sector customers over the last 12 months and, in line with the recovery/re-use objective of the WEEE Directive, recovered 74%. The remaining 26% underwent a volume reduction and segregation process in-house, before the various output streams were returned to the remanufacturing industries. 0% went to landfill, and the majority of recovered (working) equipment is supplied by Stone to UK public sector customers.
Stone also recently became the premier sponsor of IT Schools Africa (www.itschoolsafrica.org), a branch of the Isbourne Foundation (registered charity no. 1051622). IT Schools Africa supplies and supports IT donations to school projects throughout Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania. Its support not only provides for the supply of equipment and training the teachers, it also ensures the kit is responsibly disposed of at the end of its secondary life, preventing e-waste in Africa.
Andy Howell, Group Recycling Manager at Stone, concludes, “Through our in-house recycling plant and partnership with IT Schools Africa, Stone is able to offer its UK public sector customers the assurance that redundant IT hardware will be recovered, re-used or recycled in line with the WEEE legislation and ethical standards, and that their equipment will never appear as e-waste in Africa in scenes such as those portrayed in the recent BBC3 programme.”
Notes to editors
Stone is the UK’s largest privately-owned computer hardware manufacturer and is wholly dedicated to the UK public sector, specialising in the supply and support of ICT and audio-visual solutions to schools, colleges, universities, local government, the emergency services, the NHS and the MoD.
Stone’s directors and employees are UK based, paying UK taxes and the company pays UK corporation tax. That means that the company and its employees are all reinvesting as taxpayers back into UK PLC, unlike some competitors that are based abroad and contribute to other economies. Stone has recently invested in 100,000 sq.ft. of new manufacturing production line and office facilities in the West Midlands because it firmly believes in UK-based manufacturing.
Having acquired Rock in May 2008, Stone Group now sells direct to consumers, and offers high-end business and gaming notebooks to all sectors.
As well as being awarded all major educational and public sector frameworks, Stone Group has well-established relationships with leading manufacturers. Strong partnerships with Intel, Microsoft, LG, Seagate and Samsung ensure that all of its customers can be confident in the quality of the technology and receive the most competitive pricing structure.
For more information please contact: Dionne Barlow - Head of Marketing Tegan Boaler / Kirsty Cornell Stone The itpr Group Tel: +44 (0) 8448 221 122 Tel: + 44 (0) 1932 578 800