Dell claims to be the first major computer manufacturer to ban the export of electronic waste including non-working electronics to developing countries as part of its global policy on responsible electronics disposal.
Dell says its electronics disposition policy now exceeds requirements of the Basel Convention, which bans the export of certain electronic waste based on its material or chemical composition. By expanding its definition of electronic waste to include all non-working parts or devices, irrespective of material composition, and by requiring that equipment be tested and certified as “working” prior to export, Dell says it aims to help prevent the unauthorized dumping of electronic waste in developing countries.
This means that Dell will not export — directly or indirectly through vendors in its recycling chain — any non-working electronic product from developed nations to developing nations for recycling, reuse, repair, or disposal. The only exception is for warranty repairs by the original equipment manufacturers.
A 2008 report by the Government Accountability Office found that a substantial amount of electronic waste ends up in countries such as China and India, where they are often handled and disposed of unsafely, according to the Electronics TakeBack Coalition. In addition, Basel Action Network (BAN), a global watchdog group, reports that many of the exports are labeled for reuse, but in Lagos, Nigeria, for example, as much as 75 percent of the monthly imports are not economically repairable or marketable according to a 2005 BAN report.
Barbara Kyle, national coordinator for the Electronics TakeBack Coalition, which promotes responsible recycling and green design in the electronics industry, says Dell’s export policy sets a standard for others in the industry and should serve as a model for overdue federal policy on e-waste.
Dell’s disposition chain is tracked and documented throughout the entire chain of custody until final disposition. Dell said it will audit its recycling, refurbishment and processing vendors at least annually to ensure they conform to Dell’s electronics disposition policy and environmental partner performance standards. Click here for Dell’s complete electronics disposition policy.
In addition, Dell and Goodwill Industries recently extended their five-year recycling partnership to six additional states — Arkansas, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon and Vermont. A total of 18 states are now covered by the program, with more than 1,000 Goodwill stores participating.
Another leading computer maker recently announced that it is offering free computer recycling for schools for a limited time only. Apple says it will recycle old Mac computers, PCs, and qualifying peripherals from any manufacturer for free.
There’s no purchase required, and all accredited K-12 and higher education institutions with at least 25 pieces of recyclables are eligible to participate. Schools will need to register by July 31, 2009. All products must be packaged according to the instructions and collected by August 31, 2009.
Apple will accept all brands of the following equipment: computers, monitors, laptops, printers, fax machines, scanners, desktop-size copy machines, CD drives, hard drives, TVs, VCRs, projectors, overhead projectors, networking equipment, cables, keyboards, and mice.
The e-waste crisis will worsen over the next several years until 2015, when volume will peak at 73 million metric tons, according to a report from Pike Research. However, the study also indicates that global volumes will start to drop in 2016 and beyond when a number of key e-waste initiatives start to make progress.