02 April 2009

Pointing the finger at the electronics industry

Campaign group Greenpeace has named and shamed the electronics companies it has deemed the least environmentally friendly.

The quarterly Guide to Greener Electronics report 'ranks' offending companies according to criteria ranging from the amount of hazardous substances eliminated in products to the recycling of obsolete equipment and so on.
The report appears on the same day that a group called the Enough Project called for electronics makers to focus on tracing the source of minerals used in their products, in order to ensure that they are not inadvertently funding fighting in eastern Congo. Because conflicts have all but left its infrastructure in ruins, one of the few remaining activities in the Congo is mining.
While both campaigns are commendable, surely the approaches are just a touch one dimensional? Firstly, one has to question whether pointing the finger of accusation to individual manufacturers creates a sensible opening for discussion. Isn't debate built on rational dialogue rather than assigning blame?
Secondly, if Enough Project's initiative to demand more transparency in the purchase of electronics were to be implemented, then couldn't this result in an increase in the price of Congo's tin? Purchasers will simply turn elsewhere for resources.
I'm in no doubt that both pressure groups have the best intentions at heart, however, I can't help feel that legislation and stringent standards are a more constructive way of achieving a satisfactory outcome.

Author
Chris Shaw

Supporting Information

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Greenpeace

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