Expert slams IT recycling as 'rubbish'

Expert slams IT recycling as 'rubbish'

The last thing you should do, says UK's Envirowise Project

The recycling of electronic equipment is "stupid" and should be a last-ditch solution before dumping in landfill, an environmental expert said today.

Companies should instead look at the entire lifecycle of a product, and design as many components as possible to be reused rather than recycled.

This includes accessible units that can be replaced easily, casings that can be reused and better materials management.

"The answer is not recycling," said Simon Dury, business partnerships director of the UK government's Envirowise Project which advises on green policies for business.

"Recycling is stupid. It should be the last thing you do before you throw it away. You should start by designing in reuse right from the get go."

Dury believes that it is vital to look at the entirety of technology products. Up to 80 per cent of the carbon footprint of a product is built in at the design stage, he claimed, and 63 per cent of the materials used to manufacture the device do not make it into the final product.

Even little things like designing packaging can produce huge benefits, according to Dury.

Better packaging not only reduces waste but allows more products to be fitted into each shipping pallet and more stock to be displayed on shelves at shops.

When products reach the end of their life span they should not be junked as a first step, because there are many charities doing a good job at sending technology to schools and local governments in the developing world.

Alan Whitehead, chairman of the Associate Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group, and MP for Southampton Test, added: "Reuse in the UK is a strong idea but sending technology overseas can be useful if it is done carefully.

"If you have a pile of technology which is going to be difficult to service, and you have no disposal mechanism, you are essentially just sending your problem elsewhere in the world."