With the imminent implementation of the WEEE directive, IT disposal is quickly going up the agenda for many companies.

However, despite this, many companies are not ready for the directive and will struggle to meet its demands.

WEEE is the European Union Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment. It states that companies must no longer simply dispose of obsolete, redundant and surplus electrical equipment in landfill.

Any IT products such as PCs, monitors and laptops will be affected by the new legislation, which carries harsh penalties for non-compliance. 

Digital Links International, one of the largest not for profit organisations in the UK that exports refurbished computers to developing countries, is urging business to consider their legal obligations when it comes to disposing of IT equipment.
David Sogan, CEO and founder of Digital Links International, says, 'Many businesses are unaware of this new directive and haven't begun to consider in any detail how they will dispose of their unwanted computers.

Digital Links International represents a way of managing their redundant computer equipment and gives companies the added bonus in the knowledge that their computers will help to transform the educational and economic opportunities of thousands of young people in Africa and other developing countries.

We secure the donation of redundant PCs from private and public organisations in the UK, refurbish them and provide them to schools, community centres, hospitals and social enterprises in developing countries.'

IT equipment can provide greatly improved educational and employment opportunities, as well as improving healthcare and communications. 

Since being founded in 2002, Digital Links International has distributed more than 17,000 computers to over 1,000 schools and other institutions in 15 different countries, making it one of the largest and most successful organisations in the sector.

This improved access has led to increased opportunities for more than 500,000 people. The aim for 2005 is to pass the 1m beneficiaries milestone.

Digital Links International's reputation in the UK is based on the safe and efficient handling of redundant PCs. Donors are safe in the knowledge that the PCs hard drives will be cleared of any sensitive information by being professionally sanitised to GCHQ standards, and that the organisation complies with all existing and proposed environmental legislation.

Donating computers in this way not only means that a company is complying with all legal obligations, but they are also giving their computers a new lease of life and providing new educational and employment opportunities to disadvantaged children.

Each computer that is donated to a school is used by an average of 25 students, so an office of equipment can provide new opportunities for hundreds, if not thousands, of children.

Among the 120 companies that have already donated to the scheme are Abbey, Allsop, Barclays, BUPA, Centrica, Commercial Transfer, DHL, Ford, The Guardian, Research Machines, Reuters, Shell, Turner Broadcasting System, and Unicef, with some of these donations involving many thousands of machines.

Every donor receives detailed feedback on which countries and communities their computers benefit, which could be a hospital in Moldova, a school in South Africa or a university in Kenya.

To provide ongoing support and training and to ensure the computers are well used, Digital Links International sets up and trains local distribution partners. It is also instrumental in the development of innovative new products, such as solar laptops for rural schools and clinics, in an effort to combat the barriers that have traditionally stifled access to IT.

In addition, Digital Links International is the only international non-governmental organisation to pilot an environmental programme to break down and recycle end-of-life machines in Africa. 

This means that equipment can be reused without transferring the ultimate problem of disposal onto poorer countries.