Greenpeace protesters around the world return electronic waste to Philips headquarters

Press release - 10 June, 2008
Greenpeace activists returned electronic waste (e-waste) to Philips’ head offices around the world today, to highlight the company’s failure to take responsibility for its end-of-life products. With protests in the Netherlands, Denmark, India and Russia, Greenpeace is urging the Dutch electronics giant to introduce global voluntary take-back systems.

In a recent opinion poll, 94% of the public in the Netherlands backed Greenpeace's demand that electronics producers should take responsibility for collecting their own-branded e-waste (1). At present, most of it ends up in household waste or is exported, often illegally, for dumping or rudimentary recovery in the developing world.

"If Philips continues to refuse to live up to its responsibility, the result will be a huge amount of hazardous e-waste spreading around the globe. Exposing people and the environment around the dumping grounds, or the so-called informal recycling sector, to a cocktail of toxic chemicals," said Martin Besieux, Greenpeace International toxics campaigner.

As a first step, Philips should voluntarily set up credible take-back systems in all countries where its products are sold, and in particular in Russia, India, Argentina and Thailand. These countries are currently discussing future national e-waste legislation, so now is the ideal time for Philips to take the lead by supporting, through its actions as well as its policies, the principle of individual producer responsibility.

Philips stands out by publicly stating that recycling is a shared financial responsibility for the customer, government and the producer. According to Philips, consumers should pay for recycling by a visible fee. (2)

Philips is lobbying against legislation that would make companies directly responsible for the costs of recycling their own products. As a result, the status quo of toxic product design, which hampers recycling, is maintained (3).

"Companies such as Sony, Samsung and Nokia have put in place voluntary take-back schemes even in countries where they are not required to do so by law. Philips must have a full, uniform and global programme of taking care of the e-waste generated from its obsolete products, and change from being an environmental laggard to an environmental leader." Said Martin Besieux, Greenpeace International toxics campaigner.

Voluntary take-back services will encourage producers to phase out the use of toxic substances in their products at the design stage, thus allowing for safer recyling and reduced end of life costs for the companies. Greenpeace is demanding that all electronics producers take full responsibility for their own-branded e-waste on a global level, ensuring that is properly recycled or disposed of.

Other contacts: Omer Elnaiem, Greenpeace International Communications: + 0031 6 15093589Martin Besieux, Greenpeace International Toxics Campaign: +32 496 161585Greenpeace International Photo Desk: + 44 207 865 8230Greenpeace International Video Desk: +31207182208

Notes: (1) Survey conducted by GfK Panel Services Benelux in June 2008.http://www.gfk.nl/(2) Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. Sustainability Report 2006, page 55. (3) In 2006, Philips put at least 13 million television sets on the market, making it the third largest TV manufacturer in the world. Its products potentially represent at least 400,000 tons of e-waste once they become obsolete.The calculation was made on the basis of original data by research firms iSuppli and DisplaySearch, accessed via: EDN, 2007. “Top TV makers retain market lead as consumers embrace LCD sets” 9/25/2007. DIGITALHOME, 2007. Samsung is global television leader for 2006. 16/2/2007.The 400,000 tons of e-waste figure, is a calculation based on the average weight (Wt) per TV estimated, referring to a period of 20 years, by the United Nations University for the European Commission in the following Study: “2008 Review of the Directive 2002/96 on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Final Report available via: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/weee/pdf/final_rep_unu.pdf