December 6, 2007

Local IT firms told: Adopt individual, not collective, takeback scheme

Precisely because they know what substance they put into their own products, local subsidiaries of IT companies were urged by an environmental group to assume the responsibility of getting their junk products individually and not rely on the government’s effort to gather them on a collective basis.

At the recent CyberPress Forum held at the Filipinas Heritage Library in Makati City, high-profile environmental organization Greenpeace said tech firms such as PC and mobile phone makers have the moral, if not legal, obligation to recover and recycle their electrical and electronic wastes.

Representatives of IT companies who took part in the conference did not make an issue with the proposal, with top executives of computer producers Lenovo and IBM saying they would suggest to their headquarters to implement an individual takeback scheme in the country.

For its part, Board of Investment director Domingo Bagaporo said the government recognizes the merits of the suggestion and will thus consider it as the trade department winds up its cellphone waste collection and recycling program. The pilot project, which has Glorietta, Greenhills, SM Megamall as collection points, will run up to December 31.

Beau Baconguis, toxic tech waste campaigner of Greenpeace Philippines, said a “takeback” policy is one of the crucial criteria that the group uses in rating the environmental-friendliness of a technology company.

In the recent quarterly issue of the Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics, game consoles came out as the least environment-friendly electronic gadgets because of its lack of takeback policy. The report, first launched in August 2006 and rates PC and mobile phone manufacturers on their environmental practices, was expanded to include gaming consoles and television sets.

Video game market leader Nintendo lands at the bottom of the ranking guide with a score of zero out of a possible 10 points, followed by TV manufacturer Philips (2.0), and Microsoft (2.7). The global games consoles sector is the fastest growing sector of the electronics industry and is dominated by only three companies, Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft.

The new edition of the quarterly guide also shows important changes at the top of the ranking. Sony Ericsson has now taken the top spot, followed by Samsung, and Sony. Nokia, which has held the top spot since June 2007, has slid down to number nine, and, along with Motorola has been given penalty points.

During the forum, it appeared that the Philippines does not have a definitive law or clear-cut policy governing e-waste and recycling of electronic products.

IT stalwart Gus Lagman commented that the country does not even have a junkyard where harmful components of technology products can be processed safely.

The head of Sun Microsystems Philippines, another tech vendor, noted that although the government has embarked on some initiatives in addressing e-waste, a lot more needs to be done in terms of keeping the pressure on electronic companies to observe proper waste disposal and recycling.

Sun, along with EMC Philippines, revealed that they have the studied these environmental issues early on and have implemented energy-saving features that can maximize power resources.

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