Greenpeace climbers scale the Benelux headquarters of the Korean electronic giant Samsung, displaying the message "Samsung = Broken Promises" in giant letters onto the front of the building. The peaceful protest is challenging the company for breaking its promises to eliminate key toxic substances from its products.
In June 2004, Samsung was the first company to publicly commit to eliminate PVC and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) from new models of all its products. In 2006 Samsung committed to phasing our BFRs from its products by the start of 2010 and in 2007 it committed to a deadline of end 2010 for the phase out of PVC. (1) Both moves saw the company gain points and position on Greenpeace's Guide to Greener Electronics (2).
“Samsung’s promises are proving to be as thin as its TVs, as it loses face and ground to competitors such as Apple, HP, Nokia and Sony Ericsson who have long delivered products free of these hazardous substances, proving that this can be done,” said Greenpeace International Electronics campaigner Iza Kruszewska.
When a company like Samsung goes back on its committed timelines it is betraying its consumers trust. A delay in removing hazardous substances needs to be clearly communicated with valid reasons: as other companies ranked in the Greener Guide to Electronics have done, some even a year ahead of deadline. In contrast, Samsung only admitted weeks before it was due to deliver new greener products that it would fail and break its promise. The latest version of the Guide penalises Samsung for this delay. Unless the company takes urgent action to meet its commitments, it will suffer a further penalty in the next edition – the first company ever to do so.
During production, use and disposal, PVC is the single most environmentally damaging of all plastics, and can form dioxin, a known carcinogen, when burnt during substandard recycling practices. BFRs are highly resistant to degradation in the environment and are able to bio-accumulate (build up in animals and humans), can be released from products during use and can also form dioxins when burnt during the type of basic recycling practices commonly used in Asia and Africa.
“Despite being the second largest global player in mobile phone sales Samsung has only 2 models of mobile phones on the market that are completely PVC and BFR free and not even a single model in its PC range,” continued Kruszewska “If Samsung is serious about its green intentions, it needs to play catch up with competitors like Nokia and Sony Ericsson and Apple. People are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact of what they buy; Samsung needs to understand, what is good for human health, and for the environment is also good for the company’s bottom line.”
A recent report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) found that unless urgent action is taken, the e-waste crisis is set to worsen dramatically in developing countries (3).
VVPR info: Jona de Leye, Greenpeace Belgium press officer + 32 496 26 31 91 Iza Kruszewska, Greenpeace International toxics campaigner + 44 780121 2992, Martin Besieux, Greenpeace International toxics campaigner + 32 496 161585, Greenpeace International press desk +31 207 182 470,
Image and video contacts John Novis, Greenpeace International picture desk +44 207 865 8230, Mobile: +44 7801 615 889 ucy Campbell-Jackson, Greenpeace International video producer +31 634 73 87 90
Notes: 1. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/toxics/electronics/what-s-in-electronic-devices/bfr-pvc-toxic
2. www.greenpeace.org/rankingguide3. http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=612&ArticleID=6471&l=en&t=long