Corporate Responsibility: Profile - WEEE Man

Katherine Demopoulos

Canon Europe is sponsoring a project designed to promote public awareness of new and tougher rules on producing and recycling electrical and electronic goods.

The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce came up with the idea to build a human figure from electronic waste to highlight the upcoming Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive and the fact that 90 per cent of such waste currently ends up in landfill.

"The RSA wanted to make a significant statement about the fact that we are making too much waste," said RSA spokeswoman Sue Worsey. "It's shock statistics, meant to make people sit up and recognise the impact." A zero-waste society is one of the five tenets of the RSA's manifesto, she added.

Canon Europe, the camera, copiers and printers manufacturer, was keen to participate in the project, said spokeswoman Laura Scorza. She added that it had been trying to raise awareness of the environmental impact of people's behaviour for some time.

"This three-tonne sculpture, made from the electrical and electronic equipment consumed by one individual in a lifetime, will help raise awareness of these issues to both business and consumers," said Scorza.

The WEEE Man is seven metres high and will stand outside City Hall for 28 days following its official unveiling on 29 April. Tim Smit, founder and chief executive of the Eden Project, is going to speak at the launch. At the end of its London stint, the figure will be moved down to Cornwall to feature at the Eden Project.

According to Worsey, the sculpture is being constructed by a production company in York that is located close to a waste recycling plant.

The WEEE directive comes into force in mid-2006 and requires producers of electronic and electrical goods to accept for recycling the products of any manufacturer. The hope is that the recycling burden will nudge producers into designing new environmentally efficient equipment.

Scorza said Canon had invested heavily in green procurement policies, new energy-efficient technologies, reducing bad environmental impacts in production and eliminating hazardous substances.

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