Greenpeace calls on Philips to take back and recycle at Red Square event

Press release - 15 October, 2008
As Philips business relations gathered for the Philips Simplicity Event in Moscow’s Red Square to celebrate its 110 years on the Russian market, Greenpeace activists unveiled a banner with the text “Philips: simply take back & recycle” and handed out leaflets to people attending the event. Greenpeace is calling on the company to accept responsibility for its own-branded electronic waste (e-waste) and to take back and recycle its products in every country where they are sold, including Russia.

Philips only takes back its e-waste in countries where it is legally obliged to do so, and refuses to shoulder the real costs of its own e-waste fairly. Instead, Philips tries to make other producers bear its costs and make consumers pay higher or distorted costs by supporting 'collective producer responsibility'.(1)

Other electronics producers, including Sony, Toshiba, Dell and Lenovo, accept responsibility for their own-branded obsolete products, supporting 'Individual Producer Responsibility'(2), and setting up voluntary take-back systems for their products. Philips stands out in sharp contrast, as it actively lobbies against the implementation of individual producer responsibility, under existing legislation and its adoption in future legislation(3).

"Although it promises 'sense and simplicity', Philips is instead promoting a senseless and irresponsible approach to tackling e-waste," said Martin Hojsik, Greenpeace International toxics campaigner. "Philips should simply take financial responsibility for its own products. And, it has to make sure all its discarded products are collected worldwide so that the burden of cleaning up this toxic e-waste is not put on the shoulders of unprotected, poor people."(4)

A recent study by Greenpeace International on the dumping of e-waste in Ghana found a lot of discarded Philips products on dumpsites(5). As there are no recycling facilities for hazardous e-waste in the country, the recycling workers treating the waste - often children - are exposed to a cocktail of toxic chemicals and poisons when the products are broken apart.

In Russia, Philips also fails to ensure that its discarded products are properly recycled. "It is outrageous that Philips refuses to take back its e-waste in Russia," said Alexey Kiselev, Greenpeace Russia toxics campaigner. "When e-waste is burned the toxics chemicals in the products are release into the environment. A recent study showed that soil from places where e-waste is burned is severely polluted."(6)

Greenpeace wants all electronics companies to take back their products in all countries where they are sold. They should pay for the recycling of their own products, and should thus avoid distorting the costs passed on to the consumers.  When producers pay, they have an incentive to stop using toxic materials in the design of their products and make them more durable and recyclable in order to lower the recycling costs.

Other contacts: Martin Hojsik, Toxics Campaigner, Greenpeace International:
Tel: +42 19 0531 3395
Email:

Alexey Kiselev, Toxics Campaigner, Greenpeace Russia:
Tel: +79 03770 5786

Pictures to be available from:
Greenpeace International photo desk: + 44 (0) 7801 615 889

Notes: (1) Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. Sustainability Report 2006, page 55

(2) Greenpeace's Questions and Answers about Individual Producer Responsibility

(3) June 2008: Philips submitted a position paper to the European Commission in which the company asks for the deletion of the principle of Individual Producer Responsibility in the WEEE-directive.

(4) Greenpeace demands to Philips

(5) "Poisoning the Poor"

(6)
'Russian Refuse' - A study on environmental contamination in Russia associated with electronics production, recycling and disposal.