Computer recycling firm Computer Aid has called for an end to the illegal dumping of used British PCs abroad.
The charity said large numbers of old PCs are being illegally exported and dumped outside Europe, in countries including Ghana, Nigeria and China.
This dumping contravenes the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive, which became law last year. The WEEE directive states that producers of electrical equipment must pay for its recycling within the European Union.
Computer Aid said the British government should tighten the law and clamp down on illegitimate dumping firms. Louise Richards, chief executive at the charity, said that according to consumer group federation Consumers International, more than half a million second-hand PCs arrive in Nigeria every month, yet only one in four works.
"The Environment Agency must be provided with the resources to police e-waste, prosecute anyone involved in a supply chain that results in the dumping of e-waste and remove licences from organisations in breach of the WEEE legislation," she said.
"It's imperative that the government clamps down on fraudulent traders posing as legitimate re-use and recycling organisations, who are enticing unwitting UK businesses to use them for disposal of electrical equipment." With many of the dumped PCs, people stripped out the metal and incinerated the rest, she said.
Manufacturers are not being held to account if their products are found dumped in developing countries, Computer Aid said. "Producers should be made to accept the producer pays principle on a global scale, and take responsibility for the safe recycling of products in developing countries, it said.
Computer Aid provides refurbished PCs to schools and not-for-profit organisations in developing countries. It has refurbished over 130,000 PCs and laptops that are now in use in Kenya, Madagascar and Zambia.