Thailand Survey: Consumers hold PC companies responsible for e-waste

Feature story - June 7, 2006
Survey says, that majority of Thai citizens think that manufacturers of personal computers ought to assume responsibility with dealing with hazardous e-waste.

Greenpeace volunteers dressed in electronic scraps aim to raise awareness of hazardous impacts from e-waste at Commart X Gen on June 8-12, one of the largest one of the major electronics exhibition in the country.

As sales of personal computers continue to grow, a majority of Thais now think it is the duty of manufacturers of personal computers to deal with hazardous e-waste, according to a new survey.

The survey conducted by Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute, a public opinion research agency in England, among urban Thais in the first quarter of 2006 indicate that 64% of Thais think it is the manufacturers' responsibility to deal with waste from PCs.

"Thailand is facing an e-waste problem, and it is just right for consumers to hold companies responsible for the computers they sell. We don't want mountains of e-waste in our country," said Kittikhun Kittiaram, Toxics Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

A more promising finding from the survey is the fact that Thais are willing to pay as much as Baht 5,180 (£74 British pounds) extra for an environmentally friendly PC.

"It's good to know that Thais are showing their concern about the e-waste problem and are even willing to pay to help solve problems in our environment. It's time for the IT industry to seize this opportunity for a new wave of innovation which protects our health and environment. Companies must establish take back policies and eliminate hazardous chemicals from computer manufacturing," said Kittikhun.

Greenpeace has warned of a mounting e-waste problem which are now accumulating in junkyards and dirty recycling operations in Thailand. In 2003, the estimate weight of e-waste in Thailand was around 58,000 tonnes. The amount of e-waste was projected to increase at the rate of 12% per year and an estimated 3 million pieces of electronic waste will be produced in 2006. (*1)

This looming e-waste problem is becoming more evident as sales of PCs in Thailand are expected to increase exponentially. In the first quarter of 2005, more than 2.6 million computer units were already installed in Thai households or about 15.5 computers for every 100 households (*2). In addition, the combined sales of PCs for 2004 and 2005 soared to 2.6 million units (*3).

On top of this, increasing quantities of hazardous e-waste are being imported into Thailand from developed countries for supposed recycling, further contributing to the problem (*4).

Greenpeace will open its "Toxics Inside, Lifestyle in Trouble" booth at Commart X'Gen 2006 at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center on June 8-12, one of the major electronics exhibition in the country, to raise public awareness on the harmful impacts of e-waste on human health and the environment. At the booth, consumers can learn which type of harmful chemicals are used in PCs and mobile phones as well as which brands have policies to remove hazardous chemicals from their products.

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organisation which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force the solutions which are essential to a green and peaceful future.

TECHNICAL DETAILS

Ipsos MORI interviewed 1,005 urban-based Thai adults aged 15+ via a telephone omnibus using CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone interviewing).  Fieldwork was conducted between January 13  to February 1, 2006.

This research forms part of a wider international survey across nine countries.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Kittikhun Kittiaram, Toxics Campaigner, +661 3721149

Ua-phan Chamnan-ua, Media officer, +661 928 2426

For more information about this research:

Sir Robert Worcester KBE DL, Founder, MORI +44 207 347 3000

(1) Source: Pollution Control Department (2) Source: National Statistical Office (3) Source: Market Survey by The Association of Thai ICT Industry and Software Industry Promotion Agency (4) Figures from Department of Industrial Works and Pollution Control Department indicate that between February 2004 and May 2005, more than 265 thousand tons of used electronics entered Thailand from countries like Japan, Hong Kong, Korea and Singapore.

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