Where once they wrestled with giant Photoshop files, extruded 3D models or drew the most beautiful vectors in a swirl of bézier curvature, these multiprocessor systems are now doomed to a life of spreadsheets and the Heat Web site.


If you were naming an initiative to reduce waste and wanted it to be taken seriously, would you call it WEEE? There must be a less embarrassing way to get across the idea of 'Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment'. I guess it beats TURD or BOWEL, but WEEE is still asking for it. The posters should be fun: Managing WEEE is a piece of piss; WEEE cuts waste to a dribble; Slash waste with WEEE.

The WEEE Directive is being promoted by the UK Department of Trade and Industry to cut down on the level of household and industrial waste that creates foul, polluting landfills across an ever-shrinking countryside.

One of the DTI proposals is the creation of a national clearing house, funded by IT and other electrical manufacturers, which will provide free collection of unwanted equipment from local waste-management sites and special pickup points around the country. The goods will then be taken for treatment, recovery and recycling. Manufacturers' responsibilities don't end there. They will be required to reclaim 4kg of waste per person per household per year from August 31, 2004. And retailers have obligations under the directive, which demands that shops provide return facilities for customers replacing obsolete products. All of this will, of course, cost a lot of money, and it isn't yet clear how the money spent meeting WEEE's requirements will be recouped. Predictably, most firms will raise purchase prices and/or the costs of extended warranties. In other words, we'll be picking up the WEEE bill, and it won't be that wee

There's a giant office building near the doffices, which I walk past each day on my journey home. Without fail there are three or four skips at the back piled high with bashed-up old computers, green screens so tiny you wouldn't be able to see type any larger than 72pt, keyboards as long as cricket bats, dented filing cabinets, a viper's nest of tangled cables, power cords and wires, and an extraordinary number of Nobo whiteboard stands. The office spews old technology into these skips, which are emptied daily. There's a World Trade Center's worth of twisted metal and silicon disgorged on an annual basis. It's like an eternal spring-clean of the Tardis.

Wee Willie Winky

We're in the process of upgrading nearly every computer in our office, and it's a Herculean task to manage. We're not chucking out all our old G3 and G4 Macs and PIII and P4 workstations. We'll be recycling our computers in the time-honoured tradition that most dreaders will be familiar with: trickle-down. WEEE isn't about trickle-down, it's about dumping - please try to remove that image from your mind, right now.

Trickle-down means that what was once the studio's powerhouse workstation - the envy of every artworker and middleweight designer, and the cause of the MD's mild heart attack all those years ago - has over time worked its way through the organization's hierarchy until it now sits underneath the reception desk and is used to run only an email client, Web browser, and some stupid Tetris-like game. If computers had hearts, this one's would have been broken years ago. Removed from the senior designer's desk, and handed down to a junior was embarrassing enough - especially as it first had to watch as the latest model was installed, all the while cooed over by the whole studio. But its current position next to the legs of a bored, gum-chewing temp is shame itself. Maybe we should put such once-proud computers, scanners and printers quickly out of their misery, and into that skip round the back.

They'll never appreciate it, but the marketing department staff are now the proud owners of some of the sexiest, most powerful computer technology ever seen in 1999. Where once they wrestled with giant Photoshop files, extruded 3D models or drew the most beautiful vectors in a swirl of bézier curvature, these multiprocessor systems are now doomed to a life of spreadsheets and the HeatWeb site. The now extremely ancient computers currently used by sales and marketing will be recycled in a WEEEapproved manner. Several of them have been on their last legs for months, driven only by that memory upgrade they were last nudged along with 18 months ago. The WEEE people would be proud of our trickle-down policy. In fact, I think I'll give them a tinkle about it right now...

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