Electronic firms derelict on e-waste, says Greenpeace

Feature story - October 26, 2005
Manila, 26 October 2005—Greenpeace today criticized major consumer electronic firms for neglecting to face up to the serious environmental concerns surrounding the production and disposal of electronic goods which contain toxic persistent chemicals and heavy metals, as evidenced by a recent survey on company policies about the issue.

An informal recycler sorts through the electronic waste for wires and cable to recover copper.

Electronic waste at the Smokey Mountain garbage dump in Manila. Greenpeace today warned of a looming e-waste problem in the Philippines which can pose health and environmental risks. Electronic waste is the fastest growing component in the global waste stream amounting to 20 to 50 million tons worldwide with Asia contributing about 12 million tons a year.

Electronic waste at the Smokey Mountain garbage dump in Manila. Greenpeace today warned of a looming e-waste problem in the Philippines which can pose health and environmental risks. Electronic waste is the fastest growing component in the global waste stream amounting to 20 to 50 million tons worldwide with Asia contributing about 12 million tons a year.

The survey, conducted by Greenpeace between July and October 2005, looked into the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), or take-back policies, of the top electronic companies in the country. The results were dismal: among the 14 companies surveyed, only two-Dell and HP-have instituted product recovery solutions, which, even then, still fall short of EPR requirements. EPR is a product-oriented policy developed in Europe to deal with problematic waste streams, in this case, electronic scrap, or E-waste.

Survey results clearly indicate that product take back as a responsible solution to the proliferation of E-waste is not a priority of electronic companies in the Philippines. Among those surveyed, Nokia, Samsung, Sony-Ericsson, LG, Panasonic, IBM, Fujitsu, Acer, Toshiba, Sony, failed to reply to the survey. Motorola and Siemens, stated that with the absence of manufacturing facilities in the country, the take back system was not applicable to them.

"Companies are very aggressive in developing and selling their products to the point of rapid obsolescence. But it appears that none of them actually care about the horrible amount of E-waste that they produce," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Toxics Campaigner Beau Baconguis.

"They're behind the looming e-waste crisis that we're facing so they're the ones who have take urgent proactive steps to undo the problem," she added.

Last September 28, Greenpeace issued a report on the looming E-waste problem in the country and demanded that companies clean-up or phase out toxic components in electronics and take back their products when they become waste.

Greenpeace believes that the Philippine government must do its part by instituting mandatory mechanisms that embody EPR. One of them is a take back system which requires the individual manufacturers to physically take back its products after it reaches end of life.

Greenpeace also reiterated its demands for top electronic companies to move towards developing clean and durable products that can be upgraded, recycled, or disposed of safely and has asked top mobile phone and computer companies worldwide to clean up their act by phasing out toxics substances from their products and to take responsibility for their products once they reach the end of their useful life.

So far, companies such as Samsung, Nokia, Sony, Sony Ericsson, and LG have made commitments to eliminate the use of hazardous chemicals such as PVC and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) in the

manufacturing of their products. Motorola is the latest to join the list of companies in committing to substitute these harmful substances with safer alternatives.

"The looming e-waste crisis may still be averted if companies take full responsibility for their product in all stages of the product life," concluded Baconguis, "They should eliminate hazardous substances in the production, but the most immediate solution is product take back so that they can assume responsibility for this

issue now."

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organization which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environment problems, and to force the solutions which are essential to a green and peaceful future.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Beau Baconguis, Toxics Campaigner, +63 917 803 6077

Lea Guerrero, Media Campaigner, +63 916 374 4969

Grace Duran, Media Assistant, +63 917 886 0662, +63 2 434 7034