Greenpeace: Tech Giants Still Using Hazardous Chemicals

by | Sep 5, 2014

E salesSamsung, Sony and Panasonic are among the technology companies still using hazardous chemicals such as polyvinylchloride and brominated flame retardants in their products, according to a report by Greenpeace.

While there has been some progress in recent years, the report shows that a number of leading consumer electronics companies are still continuing to use toxic chemicals in smartphones, televisions, tablets, computers and cables.

Compared to 2006, the report noted that more than 50 percent of the mobile phone market is currently represented by brands – led by Nokia, Sony Ericsson3 and Apple – that have completely eliminated the use of hazardous PVC plastic and brominated flame retardants in these products.

However, Apple is the only company that has eliminated the use of PVC and BFRs in all PC components, including external cables. Other PC makers continue to use PVC in cables and other external components, despite the fact that companies representing over 50 percent of the market have virtually eliminated PVC/BFRs in other computer parts.

In addition, no TVs on the market are completely free from PVC and BFRs. Samsung, as one of the largest TV producers, has slowed its progress in this area by dropping its previous commitment to eliminate these substances from its TVs.

The report also urges the electronics industry to implement transparency – from the product to the supply chain. This should extend to supply chain emissions, with the disclosure of hazardous chemical discharges to wastewater for individual facilities.

The industry should also eliminate the use and discharge of all hazardous chemicals from supply chains, and implement a credible, hazard-based approach to its supply chain emissions.

The report also suggests steps the electronics industry should take in reducing its energy footprint, using sustainable materials and reducing consumption.

The global volume of e-waste generated is expected to reach 93.5 million tons in 2016 according to a report from Marketsandmarkets. Another survey published earlier this year by EcoATM found 57 percent of American device owners have idle cell phones in their homes, but only 22 percent said they have previously recycled cell phones they no longer use.

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