Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics

Feature story - February 5, 2008
The Guide to Greener Electronics ranks major Indian and global manufacturers of mobile phones, game consoles, TVs and PCs on their green performance. This Guide rates company on their policies and practice on eliminating harmful chemicals and on taking responsibility for their products once they are discarded by consumers. Four leading Indian computer manufacturers have been ranked on the basis of information provided publicly, and are compared to the global rankings. The ranking shows that most Indian companies have yet to be at par with global brands. Not just that, while Zenith and HCL have moved up, PCS and Wipro are still languishing where they were last year. Click here to download Version 2 of the Guide, released January 2008.

Sparks fly from a grinding machine, while youngsters sitting a few metres away sort discarded computer parts in preparation for the recycling process.

Greenpeace today called upon the electronics manufacturing industry in India to adopt "producer responsibility" in principle to deal with growing e-waste menace at the release of the 2nd version of the Indian Guide to Greener Electronics here. The Ranking Guide presents a snapshot of Company policy on harmful substances and e-waste.

The market leader in India, HCL captures the top position among Indian companies by racing ahead of Wipro in this 2nd version of the ranking guide. Zenith has moved some way from its all-nil position, where as, PCS is yet to open its account even after a series of parleys between the company and Greenpeace. 

These four leading Indian computer manufacturers are being ranked on the basis of information provided publicly on their websites, and are compared to the global rankings. The ranking shows that most Indian companies have yet to be on a par with global brands.

"Any measure short of individual producer responsibility would be half-hearted approach towards mitigating the growing e-waste crisis in India. Each producer needs to track down its own products for safe recycling, as at present, only ten percent of the produce returns to authorised recycling yards," said Ramapati Kumar, Greenpeace Toxics Campaigner.

The country currently generates around 3 lakh tonnes of e-waste annually  and is estimated to grow exponentially to 1.6 million tonnes by 2012. Most environmental impacts are predetermined at the design stage. The "producer responsibility" approach will motivate manufacturer to address the toxic problem at the product's design stage, rather than at the end of its life.

It is shocking that most Indian companies, despite their global pretensions, lag far behind their international counterparts in the management of toxics substances in their products and their e-waste. This clearly reflects their reluctance to offer green and clean products to the public in tune with global trends.  The ranking guide is a challenge to Indian industry to come out with time bound commitments to green their business.

The ultimate solution to the E-waste crisis lies not in management but in prevention. Greenpeace strongly believes that the only way to tackle this crisis is for manufacturers to design clean products, free from chemicals, with longer life spans, that are safe and easy to recycle and will not expose workers and the environment to hazardous chemicals. Companies must take responsibility for the products they manufacture, from production to the end of their lives, including safe recycling or disposal. There is no long term alternative if Indian electronics companies are to be globally competitive.