Dell takes steps to tackle electronic waste in India

Dell says it is working with Indian trade association MAIT to start dealing properly with toxic technology waste in India.

Dell says it is working with Indian trade association MAIT to start dealing properly with toxic technology waste in India.

India is one of the countries where products made by companies such as Dell often end up dumped, and the company has previously considered investing in recycling plants there.

There is no proper infrastructure for e-waste recycling in many developing countries. The technology contains valuable materials such as copper, and children and adults burn the hardware to get at them. The process exposes people to toxic substances such as PVC and cancer-causing brominated flame retardents (BFRs) in the process, and they are also likely to suffer from respiratory diseases caused by the smoke.

MAIT is the trade association representing the IT hardware industry in India, and it is working with policy makers to come up with legislation surrounding the handling of electrical and electronic waste in the country.

Dell says it is supporting its efforts, as well as Step - a consortium of UN bodies working on technology waste - and Pace, a recycling organisation.

"We are looking to work in partnership with these organisations, because we think we can be more effective working collectively," Newton said.

"We are trying to set up an economic stream to create the right behaviour [with technology waste]. You cannot just legislate to make a certain behaviour stop.

"We do feel that we have an obligation in the countries we operate in to consider the welfare of the community and the environment. We feel an educated community can do the best in dealing with some of the issues that exist."

He added the company is also working in the Democratic Republic of Congo with the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition on the sourcing of materials for its products.

Newton said Dell is on track to meet its commitment to eradicate PVC and BFRs from its computers by the end of 2011. The company has come in for criticism from Greenpeace in the past because it backtracked on earlier targets to eradicate the materials by 2009.

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