Greenpeace had been calling on Philips since 2007 to stop actively opposing laws that would oblige electronics producers to accept financial responsibility for the recycling of their own products (1). After several Greenpeace actions and 47,000 public messages, the company has finally changed its stance.
"We are delighted that Philips has finally taken full financial responsibility for its own products," said Kim Schoppink, Greenpeace Netherlands toxics campaigner. "This is a big step forward, and makes Philips a new green leader in the electronics sector."
Previously, Philips had promoted the addition of a fixed charge on top of the product price, passing the responsibility and costs of recycling directly to the consumer. However, these fixed charges are misleading, since actual costs are influenced by the amount of toxic chemicals present in products and how easy it is to recycle them. If producers are really paying for the collection and recycling of their own products, they have the added incentive to develop cleaner, more recyclable products that will reduce recycling costs. Individual producer responsibility integrating environmental cost in the product price is crucial to the greener development of the electronics industry.
Philips is also starting to create take-back systems for its own-brand waste within some countries where legislation does not currently oblige it to do so. Philips intends to set up a global take back system. However, the company still has to commit to an implementation timeframe.
"Philips' commitment to a financially sensible recycling policy, together with the simple step of taking back its obsolete products and recycling them properly everywhere, is likely to substantially improve Philips' ranking in the next Guide to Greener Electronics," said Martin Besieux, Greenpeace International toxics campaigner. "However, we want to see Philips maintain a leading role by helping to ensure future legislation on e-waste continues to ensure Individual Producer Responsibility and fully integrates environmental costs into product prices."
Following an international expose of the illegal export of e-waste from Western countries to Africa last week, Greenpeace will continue to pressure other companies to follow Philips' lead, and embrace producer responsibility.
Other contacts: Prajna Khanna, Greenpeace International, Communications Project Manager Toxics
Tel: +31621 296896
Kim Schoppink, Greenpeace Netherlands Toxics Campaigner
Martin Besieux, Greenpeace International Toxics Campaigner
Greenpeace International Press Desk, Tel: +31 20718 2470
Notes: 1. Greenpeace is calling for all electronics companies to support and implement the continued use of the principle of Individual Producer Responsibility in legislation on managing e-waste.