Birth defect warning on PC waste

Companies that dump their old computers in landfill sites rather than recycling them risk damaging public health, industry...

Companies that dump their old computers in landfill sites rather than recycling them risk damaging public health, industry experts have warned.

The warning follows a government-sponsored survey which found that babies born near landfill sites are slightly more likely to be born with health defects.

Despite the host of toxins contained in PCs, only 25% of computer waste is recycled, according to Jon Godfrey, director of business development at technology recycling company Technical Asset Management.

Godfrey said that many companies opt for the lower-cost option of dumping old hardware. "People don't associate the technology with hazardous waste but if you slash a computer up and stash it underground sooner or later the toxins will leech out," he said.

Godfrey called on IT directors to set a good example and construct an environmentally-sound disposal policy for IT equipment.

Current environmental protection legislation does not have a specific category for PC recycling and makes computer users, rather than producers, responsible for disposal of waste.

However, the burden of compliance is set to shift to computer producers under forthcoming EC legislation.

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