Monday, 12 January 2015

(Keep) Out of Africa

Responsibility is a big word. Accepting it is an even bigger thing. Part of being a grownup is accepting responsibility for what we do or say and that applies to our business lives as well. I have had the occasional rant about people expecting to recycle their IT kit for free because of the risks they are taking with their data, but today let’s take a different tack, shall we?

Every month some 600 containers of redundant IT equipment arrives in Ghana. 

That is 600 times 24,000kg at maximum average container capacity.

Every month.

That is 173m Kilograms per year. That is just one African country. And some of that comes from Europe, where people are evading WEEE regulations. Not only does this end up in landfill, but the workers dealing with it are woefully paid and often under age.

That has to be the worst statistic I have read this year so far. That and Arsenal’s defence statistics but this is not really a subject I want to be flippant about to be honest. Someone somewhere who really should know better is dumping on Africa for profit through exploitation.

Choosing a supplier for anything is a chore. You never quite know if you are getting a good deal or not, do you? The temptation is always to take the ‘best deal’ and quite often that will be the cheapest price. Not always, because there are other important factors in any decision, but I have also waxed lyrical about apathy in IT asset disposal. Quite often those other factors are not taken seriously.

So, if someone says they will collect your stuff for free, deal with the data, sort the paperwork, and then donate the equipment to Africa, or wherever, will you ask a few questions? Please.

I hope so. I have said before that I am not the greenest person ever, and in truth the industry we work in is really trying to make the best of things.

But we do all have a responsibility to do the best we can. 190,000 tons of IT Equipment goes to Ghana every year. That is a huge amount of landfill. A huge blot on their landscape. The price may be cheap but what was the cost?