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Illegal exports of e-scrap continue to dog Dell

Technology giant Dell Technologies blames ‘human error’ after again being accused of allowing recycled end-of-life products to be exported illegally from the United States to developing countries.

The claim comes from the Basel Action Network (BAN) pressure group, which routinely monitors the end-destinations of e-scrap using GPS trackers placed on selected take-back items.

In 2004, Dell established Dell Reconnect, a takeback and recycling programme in partnership with the Goodwill Industries non-profit organisation. Dell says the programme ‘leads the industry in setting the standard for free and convenient consumer electronic recycling globally’.

After two BAN investigations in 2016 and 2017 showing products were being exported illegally, Dell agreed to support BAN’s tracking programme.

In a new report, BAN says found four of six end-of-life LCD computer monitors with trackers attached were recently exported to Guatemala following a donation to the Dell/Goodwill partnership.

Under the Basel Convention, it is illegal for countries such as Guatemala to receive any hazardous wastes such as electronic waste from the United States.

‘The track record of Dell and Goodwill’s ability to enforce their policy and international law has not been a good one,’ complains Jim Puckett, BAN executive director. ‘One can make claims of caring about an issue but the proof is in the pudding. This latest finding, after two other instances of such carelessness or disregard, is a great disappointment and should be a call for a rigorous corporate action.’

In response, Dell says, ‘The incident reported by BAN appears to have been the result of human error at the Goodwill location where the displays were donated. These six displays were incorrectly sorted and sent to another partner and never entered the Dell Reconnect programme.
‘This Goodwill location has committed to immediate actions to ensure errors of this type do not occur again, and to use this as a training opportunity for all program participants. Dell will also support Goodwill Industries International to ensure participating Reconnect partners are aware of the processes in place.’

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