Philips back in the red again

Feature story - October 16, 2008
Philips Electronics has long been in the red with a big fat zero on tackling e-waste in our Guide to Greener Electronics. Meanwhile, in Moscow’s Red Square, it is celebrating 110 years in Russia with its annual 'Sense and Simplicity' event. We did a spot of corporate gatecrashing to remind Philips that, after all these years, doing the right thing is still simple: take back and recycle.

Philips stands out as the company with the worst position on e-waste and recycling.

Philips stands out as thebiggest obstacle to tackling the growing problem of old electronics (e-waste)being dumped in developing countries. Not that you'll find any reference tosuch details in Philips' marketing material. That's why we paid a visit tohighlight the real consequences of Philips' position. In fact, we discoveredthat never mind simply not mentioning the real truth, Philips' public materialwas overflowing with elaborate wording gushing over how responsible, healthyand sustainable Philips is.

Circle of irresponsibility

We found a copyof Philips' greenwashed press packet in a trash bin. It claims Philips' eventis all about a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a sustainableenvironment. It talks about responsibleconsumption and a shopping experience it calls the "Circle of Life." Philipsclaims the concepts and products presented at the event are about itscommitment to "health and well-being of people across the globe" and to"collective well-being, and helping to create a sustainable global society toprotect our environment for future generations."  If this is the case, then why does Philipsfail to take back and recycling it products globally in contrast to manycompetitors like Dell and Nokia? Why does it refuse to accept the real costs oftheir own e-waste? Instead, Philips promotes and actively lobbies forgovernments and public to subsidise recycling its e-waste.

Unhealthy People, Unhealthy Living, Unhealthy Planet

Philips should takeresponsibility for its own products. If it is really interested in a"sustainable global society", it should make sure all of its products are collectedand not leave the burden of cleaning up toxic e-waste on unprotected workers.E-waste can end up in countries without recycling facilities and the recyclingworkers treating the waste - often children - are exposed to a cocktail oftoxic chemicals and poisons when the products are broken apart.

Unprotected workers in thee-waste dumps of China, India, Pakistan and Ghana who end up dismantlingPhilips products are a world away from Philips' 'Sense and Sensibility'marketing, but that doesn't change the fact that Philips is the company whoseposition is blocking real solutions to the problem. Watch the snap shot ofpersonal stories of e-waste workers in Pakistan.

The words healthy and sustainable certainly don't spring to mind do they?

Other electronics producers, including Sony, Dell and Lenovo,accept responsibility for their own products, supporting 'Individual ProducerResponsibility', and setting up free voluntary take-back systems for theirproducts. Philips is lobbying against the implementation of individual producerresponsibility, under existing legislation and its adoption in futurelegislation.

Weare calling on Philips to accept responsibility for its own e-waste and to takeback and recycle its products in every country where they are sold. It shouldpay for the recycling of its own products.When producers pay the real recycling costs, they have an incentive tostop using toxic materials in the design of their products and make them moredurable and recyclable in order to lower the recycling costs.

Take Action

Tell Philips to simply take back and recycle its products.

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