Greenpeace Unimpressed With CeBIT's 'green' Talks

by VR Sreeraman on  March 6, 2008 at 11:11 AM Environmental Health
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CeBIT, the world's biggest technology fair, talks green but the industry has some way to go to improve its environmental credentials, Greenpeace said on Wednesday.
Greenpeace Unimpressed With CeBIT's 'green' Talks
Greenpeace Unimpressed With CeBIT's 'green' Talks

"Manufacturers still have a long way to go," Greenpeace campaigner Yannick Vicaire said at CeBIT in Hanover, Germany.

"But more and more are now taking the environmental impacts of their products seriously."

Some 5,500 exhibitors were taking part in the annual CeBIT fair, with many such as IBM and Microsoft keen to trumpet how they say they are doing their bit to lessen their environmental impact.

But Greenpeace was also present at the fair, which runs to March 9, vowing to sort the "greenwash" from the genuine, it says.

The environmental pressure group tested 37 products from 14 major electronics brands and awarded them points based on criteria such as the substitution of hazardous substances, energy efficiency and recyclability.

It said that Sony's Vaio TZ11 notebook, the Sony Ericsson T650i mobile phone and the Sony Ericsson P1i PDA came out on top in the survey, but these products scored just over half of the possible 100 points available, Greenpeace said.

Others at the top of the study included Dell's Optiplex 755, Hewlett-Packard's dc5750 desktop computers and the Nokia N95 mobile phone.

Several firms declined to provide Greenpeace with data, however, or failed to do so in time or sufficiently, including Apple, Microsoft, Nintendo and Palm, it said.

Greenpeace said it was challenging electronics manufacturers to take responsibility for the entire life-cycle of their products -- from production, through manufacture and to very end of their products' lives.

It also wants them to clean up their products by eliminating hazardous substances and replacing harmful ingredients through safer alternatives or design changes while producing energy efficient products, it says.

Worldwide Internet use needs the equivalent of 14 power stations to power all the PCs and servers, producing the same amount of carbon emissions as the entire airline industry, according to a recent study from Gartner research firm.

But this does not include the emissions created by the manufacture and disposal of the world's millions of computers, Greenpeace campaigner Zeina Al-Hajj told AFP at CeBIT.

"Even Gartner will tell you that this is a mild estimation because they are only covering use of the products, not the whole production chain," she said.

And Gartner's also says nothing about the amount of waste generated through a lack of proper recycling, which the United Nations estimates at between 20 and 50 million tonnes annually, she says.

"All electronic devices contain hazardous components ... We have in our hands a huge hazardous waste disaster."

Much of the "e-waste" is shipped "routinely and often illegally" to countries such as China, India and Vietnam -- and increasingly also Africa -- where costs are lower and environmental standards lax, Greenpeace says.

Workers, many of whom are children, and communities in such countries face "serious environmental problems ... and health hazards" as a result, it said.

The pressure group showed images of what happens to old hardware when it arrives, with workers apparently in appalling conditions smashing apart motherboards and burning plastic cables to extract the copper inside.

Greenpeace singled out televisions and games consoles such as Sony's PlayStation or Microsoft's Xbox as two areas scoring badly when it comes to environmental protection.

Source: AFP

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