The Prime Time program on RTE Television 25th April 2013, shows how the Charity Industry in Ireland plays on the public sympathy and operates without regulation of any sort. Most of them operate in good faith and with the best of intentions but because there is no regulation, they are conned and abused by criminals, or by sharp business practices.
The program highlighted the fact that many charities are only concerned with receiving money and they neither monitor nor care about the activities of the supposed commercial partners they work with.
The RTE prime Time Show
The changing face of the country’s charity industry, focusing on the clothes recycling business to reveal how criminal gangs are preying on the public’s generosity. Unfortunately it is no longer available on the RTE Player
Those of us, who operate in the Waste Electronics Recycling Industry, where we are highly regulated, are well used to “Charities” claiming to help children in the third world by collecting electronic waste and supposedly sending computers to Africa for reuse.
The reality is that any electronic waste sent to Africa or Asia is scavenged for the most valuable materials, using methods that are extremely dangerous to workers (mostly children). The rest ends indiscriminately dumped, polluting the environment
Do you know where your old computer ends up?
Even if some of the six to ten year old computers do end up in schools in Africa, and very few do, what use is a ten year old computer to a child in the modern world? Especially when most of these schools have no reliable electricity supply, never mind an internet connection. (this comment on the lack of electricity or internet in schools is a statement of fact, not an approval of that fact)
Electronic waste, and that includes computers, is one of the most hazardous wastes we generate. This is why the WEEE industry is highly regulated and sending electronic waste to Africa is banned under the “Basel Convention” for a very good reason.
The problems created by dumping WEEE in Africa has been well documented by “The Basel Action Network” and viewing any of the videos and reports on their website will show that, once electronic equipment get to Africa, it will eventually end up polluting the environment as there are no proper WEEE recycling facilities in Africa.
There are some small pilot projects being tried in Kenya but compared to the size of the problem in West Africa and the country as a whole, this is like removing a flea from an Elephant in Kruger National Park
We did look at the feasibility of sending 3-5 year old computers to specific schools in Africa and then take them back for proper recycling after 3-4 years. We found that there was there was no financially viable way to do this without leaving the disposal to the schools themselves, which would create the very environmental problems our business is designed to eliminate
The only way “supposed” charities can claim to send computers to Africa with any economic justification is because they are not subject to any waste regulations regarding how they collect and manage the WEEE in Ireland and they take no responsibility for the end of life management of the equipment and computer recycling, once it arrives in Africa.
“The Charities Act 2009”, (This Act shall come into operation on such day or days as the Minister may appoint by order)
It’s time this Act, sitting on the Ministers desk for four years was brought into force. This would at least bring some transparency to the activities of Charities and allow us to make informed decisions about supporting them, based on their activities,
The enforcement of this legislation should also include an insistence that charities sending discarded computers to the Third world comply with the Basel Convention
To ask again, do you know where your old computer ends up
If you have responsibility for the disposal of old computers, talk to us, we take that responsibility seriously