Hi-tech -- Highly Toxic: Greenpeace tells electronics industry leaders to clean up. Follows up on WIPRO

Press release - March 9, 2006
BANGALORE/HANNOVER, Germany — As electronic industry leaders gather in Hanover, Germany today, at the world’s largest electronics fair, CeBit, Greenpeace activists erected a Giant robot, at the main entrance, made from electronic waste to remind them that while the industry promotes its ever faster, smaller and smarter gadgets it cannot continue to ignore the mountain of toxic waste coming from their products nor the serious environmental and human health consequences.

Greenpeace activists erect a giant robot made from electronic components at the entrance of the world's largest electronics fair, CeBit in Hannover, Germany. The protest is to remind the electronic industry leaders gathering that while the industry promotes ever-faster, smaller and smarter gadgets it cannot continue to ignore the mountain of toxic waste coming from their products nor the serious environmental impacts and human health consequences.

“CeBit is the industry’s shining technological temple, with thousands of exhibits dedicated to how clever it is in meeting the challenges of the information age. The Giant robot holds up a mirror to the industry about the realities they choose to ignore. We are showing images of the impact of toxic electronic waste flooding into and polluting scrapping yards in




,” said Greenpeace Toxics campaigner Martin Hojsík in Hannover.



Greenpeace has been calling on the electronic industry to eliminate the most hazardous toxic chemicals from its products and for it to move to ‘clean production’.

(1) Some companies are beginning to rise to the challenge. Last week industry leader Hewlett Packard, which has been the focus of Greenpeace’ electronic waste campaign, announced a plan to eliminate a range of hazardous chemicals from their products.

(2) In September last year, Greenpeace activists had confronted WIPRO, an iconic Indian brand, at their corporate headquarters in Bangalore, to ‘Apply Thought’ and ‘Promote Clean Production’. Ten weeks later, senior officials from WIPRO responded to the challenge, promised initial steps on ‘take back’ of their products and also assured Greenpeace that they would present a road-map within six months to move to clean production.

 “As the global players make time bound commitments to clean up their products and address waste issues, we hope that WIPRO shows leadership and commitment to the environment and human health by presenting a clear road map on phase out and take back,” said Ramapati Kumar, Greenpeace India Campaigner. “It should no longer be a question of ‘if’ they need to act, it is now only a matter of ‘when’ they will commit to change.” he added.

In August 2005, Greenpeace released a report, which revealed that concentrations of lead and cadmium in dust samples collected from “recycling” workshops in India were greatly elevated over background levels. In fact, dust samples from battery dismantling workshops showed cadmium levels, a known human carcinogen, to be 40 thousand times higher than levels typical for indoor dust samples.

(3) Companies like Hewlett Packard, LGE, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Sony and Sony Ericsson have made commitments to eliminate the use of some hazardous chemicals in the near future. Other companies like Acer, Apple, Dell, Fujitsu-Siemens, IBM, Lenovo, Panasonic, Siemens and Toshiba have so far, failed to commit. While WIPRO has taken cognizance of the problem it is yet to make a commitment and present a road map.


For further information:

The Greenpeace Toxics campaign website:


Ramapati Kumar, Greenpeace India Toxic Campaign, mobile 09845535414

Vivek Sharma, Greenpeace media officer 09343788424

Martin Hojsík, Greenpeace International Toxics Campaign, in Hannover, mobile + +421905313395

Notes to Editor

1. The Electronics industry uses a wide range of hazardous chemicals in its products and production lines. In July 2006, a European Directive (RoHS – Restriction of Hazardous Substances) will come into force requiring the industry to eliminate four types of heavy metals (Lead, Cadmium, Chromium and Mercury) as well as two types of Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs). Greenpeace wants the electronics industry to go beyond the EU Directive and eliminate all type of BFRs and PVC.

(2) HP has published in its annual Citizenship report a plan to phase out the use of all types of BFRs and the plastic polyvinyl chlorine (PVC) from its entire products range with a plan by 2007.

(3) Last summer Greenpeace released report on its scientific investigations into the hazardous chemicals found in the scrap yards where electronic waste is recycled in China and India. The results from analyzing the dust from workshops, as well as waste water, soil and sediment from local rivers show conclusively the e-waste recycling yards release dangerous toxic chemicals, including heavy metals, into the work place and into the surrounding environment, causing serious health and environmental damage.

Electronics companies are generating a new fast growing hazardous waste stream that's causing problems of global proportions. UNEP estimate that 20-50 million tones of e-waste are discarded worldwide every year. That's an average of 35 million tones, or 4,000 tones per hour.

Available on request:

1. 3-minute footage of unprotected workers handling toxic electronic waste in recycling yards in New Delhi.
2. Footage of Greenpeace protest action outside WIPRO corporate headquarters in Bangalore.
3. Giant Robot video footage and images from CeBit, Hannover