LG takes up the toxic tech challenge

Feature story - 17 August, 2005
"Life's Good" might be the LG motto (LG is an electronics company) but life just got a whole lot better for the planet after LG announced that they are committing to eliminating toxic chemicals from their entire consumer electronics range.

A boy winces at the acrid smoke rising from the computer motherboards being melted over open fires in a electronics waste (e-waste) recycling yard in Delhi. Such open air burning of electronics parts to recover metals causes large exposure of workers and the environment to toxic pollution.

LG's commitment comes after we lifted the lid earlier this year on manytop brand electronics' companies poor performance in removing toxicchemicals from their products and the mountains of electronic waste(e-waste) that they generate.

After finding themselves exposed on the Internet at the bottom of thee-waste pile, LG contacted Greenpeace to find out what they had toimprove. Soon after, they committed to eliminating hazardous chemicalsfrom their entire product range. If LG found it so easy to make thecommitment, and companies with more than half the market share inmobile phones and a significant market share of other consumerelectronics making a similar commitment, why can't the slackers atDell, Apple or Acer do the same?

See which companies are in the current hall of shame.

LG joins the growing list of environmental leaders like Sony Ericsson,Nokia, Samsung and Sony who have already made commitments to eliminatethe toxic chemicals in their products.

The commitments aren't just good for consumers who will be able to buyelectronic products that are less harmful to the environment but alsofor the workers in the factories where the products are made and thescrap yards where many of the products are dismantled for recycling ordisposal.

Damning report

The commitment from LG comes as we released a damning report on thee-waste trade to China and India. Discarded electronic waste fromaround the world is being shipped to developing countries in the nameof recycling but the reality is far less appealing. Heavy metals likelead are finding their way into the environment and even people's homesat much higher rates than normal levels.

Dr. Kevin Brigden, Greenpeace scientist, who collected the samples ofdust from workshops, as well as wastewater, soil and sediment fromlocal rivers concluded that, "The data reinforces the need for theelectronics industry to eliminate the use of harmful substances intheir products at the design stage and take responsibility for theirproducts at the end of their lifecycle."

Now the momentum for companies to clean up their act in the electronicsindustry is gathering pace it remains to be seen what other brands willshow environmental leadership. The industry also needs to show it isserious about tackling the problem of e-waste by taking back itproducts at the end of their lifecycle rather than allowing poorcountries to deal with toxic e-waste.

More information

See how the companies line up. Includes contact links if you want to contact the companies on this issue.

Learn more about the problem of e-waste and the solutions to the problem.

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