Wipro, Apply Thought!

Feature story - September 5, 2005
BANGALORE, India — A relatively new but deadly waste stream is exploding in our midst -Electronic scrap or E-waste. Bangalore, the IT centre of India, alone generates over 8000 tonnes of e-waste loaded with toxic chemicals and heavy metals that cannot be disposed of or recycled safely. Greenpeace India activists today called upon the Bangalore headquarters of the iconic brand Wipro with 500 kilos of their e-waste, asking the company to ‘Apply Thought’, adopt Clean Production and put in place mechanisms to Take-Back their end-of-life products.

Greenpeace activists return ewaste to the Wipro corporate headquarters in Bangalore.

Why Wipro? Because we at Greenpeace India use Wipro products: laptops, desktops, printers et al and during our investigations of the Indian recycling yards in Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore we were surprised at the quantum of Wipro waste being scrapped at these yards.

When we started our global campaign earlier this year we were targeting the biggest brand names in the business like Hewlett Packard, Samsung, Dell, LG etc, and demanding that these multinational companies pay heed to the toxic disaster unfolding in the e-waste recycling yards of China and India. Simultaneously, we at Greenpeace India decided that we needed to engage with the most iconic Indian IT brand; one that prides itself on its strength in the Technology and Enterprise domains. We have a strong belief that if Wipro were to use these strengths to make the much-needed shift to clean production it would build a competitive edge by introducing products that do not cause harm to the environment and human health.

A recent Greenpeace report "Toxic Tech: recycling electronic wastes in China and India", released on 17th August 2005, has conclusively proved that heavy metals including lead and cadmium, acids and organic contaminants are released into the workplace and in many cases, into the surrounding environment, during the e-waste recycling and scrapping process.

Greenpeace considers that the only way to deal with the growing problem of electronic waste is for companies to design clean electronics with longer life spans, that are safe and easy to recycle and will not expose workers and the environment to hazardous chemicals.

So on Monday, 5th September, 2005 we took about 500 kilos of e-waste sourced from recycling yards around the country to the Wipro Corporate Office in Bangalore - to remind them that Wipro products contribute to the growing menace of dangerous chemicals being released to the environment during the  recycling  processes.  To also inform them that companies like Samsung, LG, Sony have already committed to phasing out dangerous chemicals and substituting them with safe and environment-friendly alternatives while reviewing their extended producer responsibility and 'take-back' policies. To ask that Wipro review its own policies for clean production and take back to ensure that none of their products harm environmental and/or human health at any stage of their life-cycle - from cradle to grave.

Incidentally, we are not the first ones to remind Wipro of their role in this crisis. Earlier this year, the Karnataka Pollution Control Board (KPCB) served notice to Wipro for having sent significant volumes of electronic waste to unauthorized recycling yards.

At the end of our two hour activity outside Wipro, we were happy that senior management from Wipro, despite their initial hesitation, promised Greenpeace activists and volunteers that the company would review its take-back policy, support any government legislation on extended producer responsibility and find out how to substitute hazardous chemicals in their products and keep pace with the likes of Sony, Samsung and LG.

Now that's we call a progressive Indian company! And we are sure that when we meet them again on October 5th as committed by them, Wipro would have 'applied thought' and found a way to become India's most iconic environment friendly brand.

View the scientific report

Visit the e-waste campaign

View the e-waste video

View the e-waste in India slideshow

See the related Press Release