Manufacturers cornerning eWaste

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Manufacturers concerning eWaste

The biggest names in electronics being Apple, Nokia etc, have just sat their first global exam on green credentials. Ranked on their use of toxic chemicals and eWaste policies, only Dell and Nokia scraped a barely respectable score. While Apple, Motorola and Lenovo flunked the test to finish bottom of the class.

Ranking is important because the amount of eWaste is growing every single day. Sadly the majority of the waste is dumped in developing countries such as India and China, where being companies are looking for cheap labour to get rid of the waste. Reducing toxic chemicals in products results in reducing pollution from old products therefore making recycling safer. Companies with good recycling plans ensure that the waste does not land on Asia’s doorstep.

Dell and Nokia believe that as producers they should bear individual responsibility for taking back and reusing or recycling their own brand of discarded products. Nokia is in the lead of eliminating toxic chemicals since the end of 2005. Dell has made it a goal of eliminating the harmful substances in their products.

In contrast to these two companies who are providing a good example of what to do in the face of the ever growing problem that is eWaste, there are a number of companies which achieved less than satisfactory results in Greenpeace’s test.

Apple is one such company. Achieving a measly 2.7 on the test, which was scored out of 10, Apple Computer were succeeded in pitiful scoring only by Acer, Lenovo and Motorola, who all scored less than 2.5.

Apple, who are supposed to be a market leader in innovation and design, would be expected to promote a greener image, and this is exactly what they do on their website. Greenpeace say that Apple have made no change to their policies since the introduction of the guide in August 2006, and this is an issue which most certainly needs to be addressed by Apple.

Nokia and Dell are saying that they believe they should bear individual responsibility for taking back and reusing or recycling their brand of discarded products, but on the other hand, from the scores that they got on their exam on green credentials, they are clearly not doing what they had hoped. Being the top electronic companies, you would expect them to have some sort of successful strategy to counter the eWaste that they may produce, but from the exam, they clearly don't have strategy to counter eWaste.

Facts show that most eWaste problems are being put on the shoulders of Asian countries such as India and China. Should this be allowed? most would say no, companies should take responsibility for their own waste. Others may say yes, this creates work for people in developing countries. So there is a balanced argument here.

Similarly to Nokia and Dell, Apple also believes that they have got to ‘face up’ to the growing problem of eWaste, and have addressed the issues raised in the Greenpeace guide on their website (also linked to above).

But the idea that eWaste processing provides jobs for those in developing countries is a valid one, and which should not be ignored. Larger electronics companies could set up eWaste processing factories in these developing countries in order to dispose of electronic components safely, whilst at the same time providing jobs for the people in these countries that would be forced to deal with it anyway.

Main analysis
. Big companies are talking but can't deliver their word due to the fact their result was barely respectable.
. Amount of eWaste is growing daily and most of it is being dumped on Asia's doorstep, which in most views is wrong.
. Some large companies are taking steps to reduce their eWaste production, but this needs to increase!