Greenpeace Gives Electronic Companies Failing Marks on E-waste Issue

Feature story - October 20, 2005
Bangkok - 20 October 2005 – Greenpeace today accused top electronic companies of failing dismally to respond to the mounting environmental challenges brought about by the production and disposal of electronic products, as evidenced by a recent survey done by the environmental group on company policies surrounding the issue.

A recent Greenpeace survey shows that majority of electronic companies have no policies or programs in Thailand as regards mechanisms for taking back their products at the end of their useful lives.

A recent Greenpeace survey shows that majority of electronic companies have no policies or programs in Thailand as regards mechanisms for taking back their products at the end of their useful lives. A recent Greenpeace report reveals that significant amounts of this electronic scrap are ending up in environmentally unsound recycling and disposal operations.

"Our survey shows that most electronic companies are failing to address this issue in a responsible manner. It is deplorable for these companies to turn a blind eye on this issue and leave the burden of dealing with discarded hazardous materials to the government, taxpayers, and communities, while they continue to rake in profits from the sale of their products," said Kittikhun Kittiaram, Greenpeace Toxics Campaigner.

Although some electronic companies have made commitments to take back their used products and phase out the use of toxics materials in their products, the majority of large electronic companies have made no commitments in doing so.i For this reason, Greenpeace believes that a comprehensive mandatory policy on Extended Producer Responsibility is needed which would require these companies to take responsibility for the whole life -cycle of products they put out in the market.

Thailand's booming consumption of electronic and electrical goods has created a corresponding explosion in electronic scrap containing toxic, persistent chemicals and heavy metals. These substances cannot be disposed of or recycled safely when they are thrown away.

Greenpeace reiterated its demands for top electronic companies to move towards developing clean and durable products that can be upgraded, recycled, or disposed of safely. Greenpeace has asked top mobile phone and computer companies worldwide to clean up their act by phasing out toxics substances from their products and take responsibility for their products once they reach the end of their useful life.

Companies such as Samsung, Nokia, Sony, Sony Ericsson, and LG have made commitments to eliminate the use of hazardous chemicals such as PVC and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) in the manufacturing of their products. Motorola is the latest to join the list of companies in committing to substitute these harmful substances with safer alternatives.

"The solution to the e-waste crisis lies in designing the toxics out of electronics production. Electronic manufacturers must design their products with this objective, thereby creating safer conditions for recycling. But the most important step is for them to assume responsibility for this issue now," added Kittikhun.

For more information:

Kittikhun Kittiaram, Toxic Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Tel. 01 372 1149

Ua-phan Chamnan-ua, Media Campaigner, Tel 01 928 2426

1. Companies that have written to confirm they have a product take-back system in place in Thailand are Nokia, Dell, and HP. However the collection rates are very low and Nokia admits that smelting is one technology used to process their collected end-of-life products while HP and Dell have not provided information on what technology is used in processing their e-waste. Those that either have not written to confirm they have a product take-back system in Thailand or have not replied to Greenpeace's letters are Samsung, Sony, Sony Ericsson, Siemens, Fujitsu-Siemens, LG, Motorola, Panasonic, Acer, Toshiba, Apple, and IBM.

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