Who’s responsible for recycling computers?


In the United Kingdom, the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive mandates who is responsible for PC recycling.

Tons of e-waste is discarded yearly including many PCs and the number has been expanding rapidly. Most electronic waste ends up in landfills, rather than PC recycling sites, where it threatens to release a variety of toxic substances into the environment. Even though the dumping of e-waste, the process of monitoring computer disposal is poor and it has not stopped or even slowed down the practice. So, more than 90 percent of PCs and other high-tech waste ends up at dump sites in the country.

The old CRT computer monitors can release up to five pounds of lead into the groundwater and environment. At some landfills in developed countries, e-waste accounts for 40 percent or more of the lead found at the sites. Other types of a hazardous substance found in an electronic trash can include cadmium (Cd), mercury (Hg), PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride Plastics), hexavalent chromium (Cr) and brominated flame retardants.


High-tech toxins can contaminate the food chain resulting in health problems for wildlife and humans. They have the potential in some cases of seriously disrupting the ecosystem and costing the public massive sums of money in remediation costs. For this reason, PC recycling is an important issue for the government and for all of the society.

The WEEE Directive places the onus on British manufacturers and importers of electronic goods along with retailers to fund programs for proper computer disposal and other e-waste recycling. Manufacturers and foreign producers are required to fund recycling programs, while retailers that sell electronic devices must offer customers a free PC recycling drop-off point on a “like for like” basis. Alternatively, electronics retailers can opt to help fund the expansion of WEEE recycling collection points.

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