Philips had been the biggest obstacle in the electronics industry to tackling the growing problem of e-waste. And we have been calling on them since 2007 to stop actively opposing laws that would oblige electronics producers to accept financial responsibility for the recycling of their own products.
After several actions and 47,000 messages from our supporters, the company has finally agreed to our demands. This is a big step forward, and makes Philips a new green leader in the electronics sector.
This is not only good news for consumers but also for the environment - because recycling costs are influenced by the amount of toxic chemicals present in products and how easy it is to recycle them. Producers like Philips now have the added incentive to develop cleaner, more recyclable products that will reduce recycling costs now that they are paying for the collection and recycling of their own products. Producer responsibility is crucial to the greener development of the electronics industry.
Taking it back
Philips is also creating take-back systems for its waste within some countries where legislation does not currently oblige it to do so. It intends to set up a global take-back system, but 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 its ranking in our next Guide to Greener Electronics.
Better for the climate
The electronics giant has also made commitments to make substantial cuts in its own greenhouse gas emissions and support a 30 percent emissions reduction for industrial nations by 2020.
The latest edition of our Green Electronics Guide had shown Philips to be one of the leaders on energy, but still scoring abysmally on e-waste. Thanks to the public pressure mounted on the company over the last couple of years, with this week's announcement Philips now becomes one of the leaders in this field.
We are happy to now be able to hold Philips up as an example of how electronics companies can be truly green across the board. We now 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 integrate environmental costs into product prices.
Follow the leader
We will be pressuring other companies to follow Philips' lead, and embrace producer responsibility. Electronics waste is often dumped in landfills or burned in smelters. Some is exported, often illegally, from the Europe, US, Japan and other industrialised countries, to Asia or Africa. Only last week, we exposed the illegal export of e-waste from Western countries to Africa. There, workers at scrap yards, some of whom are children, are exposed to a cocktail of toxic chemicals and poisons.
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