Following the guidelines of the Basel Convention – an international treaty designed to stave off the movements of hazardous waste – Dell has decided to go beyond ceasing the export of certain electronic waste based on chemical or material composition and completely ban export of e-waste to developing countries across the board.
Generally electronic waste, or e-waste, is classified as non-working electronic goods that are exported to developing economies such as Nigeria or Ghana on the premise of being repaired and/or sold on as secondhand goods.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), inspections of 18 European seaports in 2005 found that as much as 47pc of waste (which included e-waste) marked for export was illegal.
In the UK, at least 23,000 metric tonnes of undeclared electronic waste was illegally shipped to the Far East, India and China in 2003, while in the US, the EPA estimated that 50-60pc of waste earmarked for recycling is collected this way. However, this is technically legal because although the US signed the Basel Convention, the US Government has not yet ratified it.
Dell, whose Austin, Texas headquarters has already switched to 100pc renewable energy, will now require that all equipment is tested and certified as working before it is deemed acceptable for export.
“As one of the world’s leading providers of technology, we recognise our responsibility to ensure that technology is disposed of properly at the end of its usable life,” said Jean Cox-Kearns, senior EMEA Take Back & Recycle manager at Dell.
“These additions to our disposition policy reflect the way Dell has been operating for years with regard to electronics disposition. We strongly encourage the rest of the industry to do the same using globally consistent practices like these.”