The UK’s waste output contains an increasing number of IT assets, including mobile devices and hard drives. Millions of computers, servers and storage devices are discarded by businesses every year. When added up, the problem this presents to overburdened UK landfills becomes clear. The printers, circuit boards, mobile devices, hard drives and monitors that are discarded are collectively known as e-waste.
There are now strict restrictions on the disposal of e-waste in the UK, where widespread recycling is encouraged. The same cannot be said for other parts of the world, especially in developing countries.
Almost no business in the UK would knowingly send their old IT assets to landfill when there are recycling alternatives. This is why ‘free IT recycling’ services have become so popular in recent years. Unfortunately, many companies who entrust these free service companies with their IT asset disposal unwittingly contribute to the proliferation of dangerous e-waste into landfills – if not in the UK, then elsewhere in the world. Much of this e-waste is not recycled at all, but is simply disposed of in unsightly, unregulated landfills in developing countries.
The Threat To The Environment
There are many reasons to ensure that your office’s e-waste is professionally recycled instead of being consigned to a free service.
All of these assets contain toxic substances in varying amounts. These substances include heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium. An average computer can contain as much as 2kg of lead. If discarded into a landfill site, the lead can quickly leach into the environment, causing a situation which poses a threat to local plants, animals and communities should it be allowed to leach into the groundwater supply.
The Threat To Developing Countries
It is an unfortunate reality that e-waste all too often ends up in developing countries, where proper recycling facilities and safe handling procedures do not exist. This is the fate of much of the equipment collected by so-called ‘free IT recycling’ companies. Assets that cannot be refurbished for sale are frequently shipped out to vast ‘electronic graveyards’ in India or Africa.
This poses untold dangers to the local people who process and dispose of equipment, as well as the wider population and environment. So much pollution has been caused by improper e-waste disposal in developing countries that it has prompted concern with the UN.
Statutory Waste Disposal Requirements
In the UK, the WEEE, or Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment directive, was implemented in 2007 to reduce the amount of improperly-discarded e-waste. The directive imposes strict guidelines for companies who treat or recover these items, and states that e-waste must be handled independently of other waste.
Companies who handle, process and dispose of e-waste must prove that they do so to WEEE standards. Clients from whom e-waste is collected must also be able to prove that their e-waste was handled by a company adhering to WEEE standards. At Absolute IT we are WEEE compliant and operate a 0% landfill policy, so you can be assured that your e-waste is being handled and disposed of responsibly. We never export e-waste for processing outside the UK.
Finding A Professional Asset Disposal Partner
In order to have your company’s e-waste properly collected and disposed of, you will need the services of a professional company such as Absolute IT. Not all recycling companies operate to the same high standards, so in order to eliminate risk, you should ensure that your chosen IT asset disposal company complies with WEEE standards. This also extends to any third parties your partner may use to carry or dispose of e-waste. Our disposal supply chain is completely transparent and we willingly provide compliance information for every step of the process.
ADISA Certified Disposal Services
At Absolute IT, we are one of only a handful of companies in the UK certified as fulfilling the standards of ADISA; the Asset Disposal and Information Security Alliance. ADISA sets the benchmark for secure handling and disposal of IT assets around the world, ensuring the environment and communities in the developing world are not burdened by toxic e-waste. We also work with our partners in ADISA to prevent data proliferation and reduce cyber-crime resulting from ‘recycled’ IT assets. For more information about our professional services, please get in touch with one of our data security specialists today.