Irish e-waste found dumped in developing countries

From e-waste article in Irish “Green NEWS” February 7th, 2019

e-wastee-waste from Ireland and other EU countries is being dumped in developing countries, a new international study has found.

The findings were revealed in a new two-year study that tracked the movement of 314 old computers, printers, and monitors from 10 EU countries using secretly installed GPS trackers.

The Irish cases

In October 2017, BAN dropped off 24 non-functioning pieces of electronic waste, including LCD monitors, printers and computers, to facilities in towns and cities across Ireland.

Three suspicious shipments of LCD monitors were identified, one each in counties Cork, Tipperary and Limerick, the latter of which is under investigation by the National Trans-Frontier Shipment Office (NTSFO), according to RTE Investigates.

In October 2017, BAN staff deposited an LCD monitor at a civic amenity site in the county that ended up in a scrap yard 11,885km away in Hong Kong last month via Romania.

Non-functional LCDs are considered a controlled hazardous waste under EU regulations and it is also illegal to import hazardous e-waste into Hong Kong.

A recent UN study found that a quarter of over 60,000 tonnes of electronic waste shipped to Nigeria in 2015 and 2016 was non-functioning and potentially toxic. Almost seven per cent came from Ireland.

e-waste burning in asia

Burmese workers cooking circuit boards at site in Thailand Photo: BAN

Circular Economy in trouble

BAN staff visited several locations in destination countries where European e-waste ended up, finding that the electronics were often subjected to substandard and dangerous recycling operations.

Workers were often exposed to chemicals through the process of smashing, burning, melting, or acid stripping of electronic good to extract valuable metals and minerals.

Parts of the e-waste containing substances such as mercury and lead were discarded or burned in local dumps, the study found.

The discovery of these “very significant stream of illegal shipments” to vulnerable populations “flies in the face” of the EU’s circular economy objectives, according to Jim Puckett, the director of BAN.

“There is far too much bemoaning illegal exports, while at the very same time, the EU is hypocritically working to make such dangerous exports legal,” he said.

“The answer to criminal activity is not legalizing that activity but rather improving enforcement to ensure the future health of Europe is not dependent on poisoning the rest of the world.”

He said that BAN is fearful that efforts by electronics manufacturers to create a “repairables loophole” in the Basel Convention will allow a tsunami of broken, low-value electronic scrap to flow from Europe.

About the Green News Author

Niall Sargent

Niall Sargent from

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London

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Posted in: Environment

Is the GDPR negatively impacting on the circular economy?


Eight months since the GDPR came into force in May 2018, the world hasn’t collapsed, and the sun did come up this morning. Generally accepted as a good thing although a cause for a certain amount of anxiety for Data Controllers and Data Processors.

“What is the difference between a data processor and a data controller?
A controller is the entity that determines the purposes, conditions and means of the processing of personal data, while the processor is an entity which processes personal data on behalf of the controller.”

With the penalties for breaches of the GDPR being potentially disastrous for organisations who take compliance seriously, a certain amount of “over kill” is to be expected until things settle down and GDPR Compliance becomes part of normal business process.

This is where the GDPR and the Circular Economy interact.  With global data storage growing exponentially, swapping out hard drives for ever bigger and faster units produces larger and larger amounts of used hard drives containing sensitive data that needs to be destroyed and the best way to guarantee destruction is to have a hard drive shredder on site, with the shredded residue going for metals recovery. This, in itself, is fine as the separated materials recovery rate for reuse is over 90%.

The problem is that many of the hard drives destroyed have capacities of 1, 2,3, 4 Terabyte+ and if properly wiped and remastered have considerable life left for use in secondary markets. I have not been able to find any information about the carbon footprint of producing a new 4Tb hard drive but, we can be certain that it is considerably higher than the cost of wiping and remastering an existing reusable hard drive.

GDPR Compliant Data Destruction

Here at Electronic Recycling we can provide all of the data destruction services mentioned above, we can put a mobile shredder on site for large quantities of hard drives ( 30+). For smaller quantities we can securely collect drives for immediate delivery and shredding at our facility in Finglas or, using our Proteus system by Teleplan we can absolutely securely test, wipe and soft repair drives for reuse, either on your site for larger quantities or at our facility in Finglas. Any drives that fail the Proteus tests are shredded in the normal way.

Revenues generated are shared with the client, turning a cost of destruction into a revenue generator and at the same time contributing to the circular economy, the best of both worlds.

If you have responsibility for data destruction, talk to us, we take that responsibility seriously.

Posted in: Environment, GDPR, WEEE