LG takes up the toxic tech challenge

Feature story - August 23, 2005
"Life's Good" might be the LG motto but life just got a whole lot better for the planet after LG electronics announced that they are committing to eliminating toxic chemicals from their entire consumer electronics range.

A boy winces at the acrid smoke rising from the computer motherboards being melted over open fires in a electronics waste (e-waste) recycling yard in Delhi. Such open air burning of electronics parts to recover metals causes large exposure of workers and the environment to toxic pollution.

LG's commitment comes after we lifted the lid earlier this year on many top brand electronics' companies poor performance in removing toxic chemicals from their products and the mountains of electronic waste (e-waste) that they generate.

After finding themselves exposed on the Internet at the bottom of the e-waste pile, LG contacted Greenpeace to find out what they had to improve. Soon after, they committed to eliminating hazardous chemicals from their entire product range. If LG found it so easy to make the commitment, and companies with more than half the market share in mobile phones and a significant market share of other consumer electronics making a similar commitment, why can't the slackers at Dell, Apple or Acer do the same?

See which companies are in the current hall of shame.

LG joins the growing list of environmental leaders like Sony Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung and Sony who have already made commitments to eliminate the toxic chemicals in their products.

The commitments aren't just good for consumers who will be able to buy electronic products that are less harmful to the environment but also for the workers in the factories where the products are made and the scrap yards where many of the products are dismantled for recycling or disposal.

Damning report

The commitment from LG comes as we released a damning report on the e-waste trade to China and India. Discarded electronic waste from around the world is being shipped to developing countries in the name of recycling but the reality is far less appealing. Heavy metals like lead are finding their way into the environment and even people's homes at much higher rates than normal levels.

Dr. Kevin Brigden, Greenpeace scientist, who collected the samples of dust from workshops, as well as wastewater, soil and sediment from local rivers concluded that, "The data reinforces the need for the electronics industry to eliminate the use of harmful substances in their products at the design stage and take responsibility for their products at the end of their lifecycle."

Now the momentum for companies to clean up their act in the electronics industry is gathering pace it remains to be seen what other brands will show environmental leadership. The industry also needs to show it is serious about tackling the problem of e-waste by taking back it products at the end of their lifecycle rather than allowing poor countries to deal with toxic e-waste.

More information

See how the companies line up. Includes contact links if you want to contact the companies on this issue.

Learn more about the problem of e-waste and the solutions to the problem.

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