Friday, July 29, 2011


Wednesday, July 20, 2011



Thursday, June 23, 2011



E-Waste Export Bill to Stop Global E-Waste Dumping & Boost Green Jobs

Environmental, Bipartisan and Industry Support

(Washington, DC, June 23, 2011) U.S. Representatives Gene Green (D-TX) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) yesterday introduced new legislation – the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act - to stop sham U.S. “recyclers” from dumping electronic waste on developing countries and to promote recycling jobs at home. The bill is supported by environmental groups as well as electronic manufacturers (Dell, HP, Samsung, Apple, and Best Buy), all of which already have policies that prohibit the export of e-waste to developing nations. The bill also has bipartisan support, including sponsors Reps. Steven LaTourette (R-OH) and Lee Terry (R-NE).

“This is the most important step our federal government can take to solve the e-waste problem – to close the door on e-waste dumping on developing countries,” said Barbara Kyle, National Coordinator of the Electronics TakeBack Coalition, a national environmental coalition which promotes responsible recycling of e-waste. “It will bring recycling jobs back to the U.S.”

The bill addresses the toxic exposures caused by e-waste dumping and primitive recycling operations in countries like China, India, Nigeria, Ghana, which have the subject of recent media exposés, and a scathing report by the U.S. Governmental Accountability Office (GAO).

“The States have been passing laws that are already increasing the amount of e-waste collected for recycling, instead of land-filling,” said Kate Sinding, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Unfortunately, these laws can’t stop recyclers from simply sending our e-waste – and our jobs - to developing nations where improper handling threatens health and the environment. But Congress can.”

Twenty five states have passed e-waste recycling legislation, but these laws do not ban e-waste exports, which is an international trade issue, and not the constitutional jurisdiction of the states. Only Congress has the authority to legislate this much needed restriction.

“This bill accomplishes two things: first, it prevents hazardous material from being shipped where it will be mishandled and cause health and environmental damage; and second, it is a green jobs bill and will create work here in the U.S., processing these used products in safe ways,” said U.S. Representative Gene Green (D-TX). “I applaud HP for leading on this issue and their responsible recycling.”

“Each year, millions of tons of electronics equipment are discarded in the U.S. and shipped to developing nations for unsafe salvage and recovery,” said U.S. Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA). “By carefully regulating the export of e-waste, this bipartisan legislation takes concrete steps to address a growing environmental and health crisis while creating good-paying recycling jobs here in the U.S.”

Currently, electronic waste is exported to developing countries by many U.S. companies that claim to be recyclers, to be bashed, burned, flushed with acids, and melted down in unsafe conditions in developing countries. Eighty percent of children in Guiyu, China, a region where many “recycled” electronics wind up, have elevated levels of lead in their blood, due to the toxins in those electronics, much of which originates in the U.S. The plastics in the imported electronics are typically burned outdoors, which can emit deadly dioxin or furans, which are breathed in by workers and nearby residents.

“As an industry leader in product lifecycle improvements, HP does not allow the export of e-waste from developed countries to developing countries. We support the work of Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) to pass the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act, and we encourage other companies to join the effort and promote responsible recycling,” said Ashley Watson, Vice President and Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer for HP.
The bill establishes a new category of “restricted electronic waste” which cannot be exported from the U.S. to developing nations. Used equipment can still be exported for reuse as long as it’s been tested and is fully functional. Non-hazardous parts or materials are also not restricted. Other exemptions from the restrictions are:
• products under warranty being returned to the manufacturer for warranty repairs;
• products or parts being recalled; and
• crushed cathode ray tube (CRT) glass cullet that is cleaned and fully prepared as feedstock into CRT glass manufacturing facilities

“Not only is this bill good for the environment, but it gives a boost to small business recyclers and creates more green jobs. This is what both the industry and our customers want,” said Dewayne Burns, CEO, eSCO Processing and Recycling.
Similar legislation was introduced in the House in September of 2010, but it was too late in the Congressional session for the bill to advance. This time, the bill has added a provision for research into recycling and recovery of Rare Earth Metals from electronics. Export of electronics scrap to crude recycling operations in developing countries also prevents proper collection and recycling of precious and strategic metals.

“This bill is both a boon to the health of our environment and our U.S. economy. With it, we stop squandering critical metals resources, stop poisoning children and we create good recycling industry jobs in the USA at the same time,” said Jim Puckett, Executive Director of the Basel Action Network.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Toxics in the ‘Clean Rooms’:
Are Samsung Workers at Risk?
Workers groups in South Korea report an unusually high incidence of cancers and other serious diseases among employees at Samsung’s semiconductor and other electronics plants. While the company denies any link, the pattern of illnesses is disturbingly similar to that seen at semiconductor facilities in the U.S. and Europe.
by elizabeth grossman

To experts in health issues relating to high-tech electronics workers, the story emerging from Samsung’s manufacturing plants in South Korea is distressingly familiar: An unusually high incidence of leukemia, lymphoma, brain cancer, and other serious diseases appears to exist among relatively young people who have worked in Samsung’s semiconductor and other chemically-intensive manufacturing plants. While direct cause and effect are difficult to prove, the South Korea situation presents striking similarities to patterns of illness seen at semiconductor plants in the United States and elsewhere in decades past.

In 2007, a 22-year-old woman named Yu-mi Hwang, who had worked at Samsung’s Giheung semiconductor plant while still in high school, died of leukemia. A year later, a 30-year-old woman who shared a workstation with Yu-mi died, also of leukemia. In March 2010, a 23-year-old woman named Park Ji-Yeon, who had worked at Samsung’s On-Yang semiconductor plant since 2004, also died of leukemia, three years after her diagnosis. In 2005, a 27-year old woman named Han Hae-kyoung, who had worked in a Samsung LCD plant since 1995, was diagnosed with a brain tumor and is now seriously disabled. Another woman, Lee Yoon-jeong, who worked for Samsung in semiconductor production between 1997 and 2003, was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2010 at age 30. As of March 2011, Korean labor and occupational health activists have counted 120 such cases of severe illnesses and 46 resulting fatalities among Samsung workers.

South Korea Samsung Factory
CHOI JAE-KU/AFP/Getty Images
A production line employee assembles an LCD TV at a Samsung plant in Suwon, South Korea.
According to Dr. Jeong-ok Kong, an occupational health physician who has tracked these cases for the Korea Institute of Labor Safety and Health (KILSH) and other nonprofit organizations, most of the workers who have become ill with serious diseases that could be linked to their jobs worked in Samsung’s semiconductor plants. Initial studies by KILSH and an organization known as SHARPS (Supporters of Health and Rights of People in the Semiconductor Industry) have found 74 people who worked in Samsung semiconductor plants and became seriously ill; at least 26 of them have died. Fifteen additional workers who worked in LCD plants became seriously ill with these diseases, and at least five of them have died, according to Kong; three others worked in cell phone plants, and two of them have died.

“The victims we have been finding are concentrated in several ‘old’ and manual facilities,” said Kong, whose work on behalf of electronics-industry workers won a 2010 American Public Health Association Occupational Health and Safety Section Award.

“SHARPS began collecting information on these cases in 2007, but the victims have work histories that go back before 2000,” said Kong, speaking by phone from South Korea. Most of the workers known to SHARPS to have become ill were born in the 1980s and 1990s. Many were diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses in their 20s and 30s, many within well under ten years of beginning work at Samsung. Kong said similar illnesses were now being reported by workers at other Korean electronics firms.

Samsung, one of the world’s four largest electronics manufacturers, ranks among the top 40 companies on the Fortune 500 and is the largest company in South Korea. With its products accounting for about one-fifth of the nation’s exports, Samsung is extremely powerful in South Korea,

Many of the workers were diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses less than 10 years after starting at Samsung.

with more than $172 billion in sales in 2010. In addition to its extensive electronics businesses, the Samsung Group includes chemical manufacturing, heavy industry and construction, financial services (including life insurance and a credit card business), hotels, resorts, and a medical center. Samsung Electronics’ 2009-2010 sustainability report lists 157,701 employees, 80,115 of whom are listed in the “production” sector in South Korea; but it does not list how many work directly in manufacturing operations.

According to Kong, despite repeated requests by SHARPS, the Korean Ministry of Labor has not made available information showing how many Samsung employees work in manufacturing operations vs. white collar jobs; Samsung has also not provided such information. That these numbers are not public is not surprising as such details have also not been available at the initiation of epidemiological studies of the semiconductor industry in the U.S. and the UK. But it means there is no available count of the number of Samsung employees who work directly in jobs that would expose them to hazardous chemicals, which complicates efforts to establish the significance of the reported cancers and other serious illnesses.

The Samsung workers diagnosed with serious illnesses that may be linked to their employment worked in a variety of operations, according to Kong. Some worked on printed circuit boards for LCD screens; others worked in various aspects of semiconductor fabrication, including chip burning (a process that tests semiconductors by subjecting them to high heat and voltage), ion implantation, and using x-rays to check the quality of chips. While there is a lack of firmly verifiable data about the identity of all the substances used in these processes, what is known is that they involve dozens of chemicals that include organic solvents, among them benzene, and heavy metals, including lead.

Kong protest
Image from YouTube
Dr. Jeong-ok Kong has been an outspoken health advocate for electronics industry workers in South Korea.
Benzene and other volatile organic compounds used widely in semiconductor and other electronics manufacturing also include trichloroethylene (TCE) and methylene chloride, which are associated with cancer and nervous system damage and are also known to affect developing embryos. Benzene is classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a confirmed human carcinogen. It is known to cause leukemia and dangerous blood disorders including aplastic anemia and thrombocytopenia, a disease that interferes with blood-clotting, from which at least one Samsung worker is suffering. Benzene is also known to cause cerebral edema and kidney disorders. Exposure to TCE has also been linked to elevated levels of certain cancers, including brain cancer, leukemia, and lymphoma. Lead, mercury, and other metals used commonly in semiconductor and other electronics manufacturing are known neurotoxicants. Arsenic, also used widely in electronics production processes, is toxic to blood cells and carcinogenic.

Most of these processes involving hazardous chemicals take place in so-called “clean rooms” — manufacturing facilities where the enclosed environment is engineered to remove dust and other particles that can damage sensitive equipment such as semiconductor chips and other high-tech components. What makes this potentially significant is that air in clean rooms re-circulates rapidly. This keeps dust and other particles away from sensitive equipment and products. (Those head-to-toe coveralls known as “bunny-suits” were designed to protect microchips et al. — rather than workers — from contaminants.)

Yet this recirculation of air also increases the rate at which workers breathe chemicals and the number of workers exposed, explained Joseph LaDou, former director of the International Center for Occupational Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. When the air circulates rapidly in the clean room’s enclosed environment, the effectiveness of any hoods or filters are diminished, he explained. “In an 8-hour shift — or the longer shifts worked in Asia — clean room workers are breathing a cauldron of chemicals,” said LaDou. And when it comes to any protective standards, “there is no regulation for exposure to groups of chemicals or circulating exposure,” he noted.

“The cases at Samsung fit a pattern of what we saw in the IBM study,” said Richard Clapp, Boston University professor emeritus of environmental health and epidemiologist who conducted an epidemiological study of cancer and death rates among IBM workers between 1969 and 2001 that

A U.S. epidemiologist says the cases at Samsung ‘fit a pattern’ of what was seen in a study of IBM workers.

found elevated rates of blood, brain, lymphatic, and other cancers among workers likely exposed to manufacturing chemicals.

Said Amanda Hawes, an attorney based in San Jose, Calif., who specializes in occupational health issues related to chemical exposure: “What’s being seen at Samsung is comparable to other situations where there’s been an excess of lymphoma and leukemia incidence among workers (particularly women) working in mixed chemical environments with solvents.” Hawes has represented former IBM workers in lawsuits involving chemical exposure. (IBM has settled a number of such cases out of court.)

According to Samsung, studies conducted in 2007 and 2008 by the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency and a private consulting team found no correlation between the workplace environment and employee illnesses. “Nevertheless,” Reuben Staines, of Samsung’s corporate communications team in Seoul, wrote in an email, “Samsung Electronics has commissioned an additional independent third-party review, which began in July of last year.” This review is being conducted by a team led by Environ International, a private consultancy, and its work will be reviewed by a panel that includes experts from Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Michigan, and other institutions. “The inspection team has been and continues to be given complete access to Samsung’s semiconductor manufacturing facilities,” wrote Staines. Samsung says it will “carefully review” the Environ findings and “make any necessary changes to our environmental safety and health infrastructure and procedures.”

In December 2010, four Korean NGOs that have been working with SHARPS and labor groups issued a critique of a report released last fall into conditions at Samsung’s semiconductor fabrication plants. The report, known as the “Advisory Report” and overseen by Seoul National University, “found no instances of regulatory breaches in our manufacturing operations,” says Samsung. However, the NGOs say the report failed to account for all the chemicals used in the various production lines (some apparently use as many as 99 different chemicals) or to fully account for how chemicals have been managed – lapses they contend include safety and monitoring equipment failures and leaks. The NGO critique also notes that both the Advisory Report and a 2006 assessment by the Korean Institute for Environment Hygiene and Safety cautioned about the potential for exposure to highly concentrated toxic chemicals despite proper operating procedures.

Samsung has taken issue with SHARPS’ assessment of workers’ health and with the critique, calling the NGO account “inaccurate and misleading” and one that “cannot be viewed as a credible epidemiological study.” One criticism is that the NGO document includes illnesses outside of the semiconductor business. Rather than the 120 cases counted by SHARPS, Samsung says it “is aware of 22 cases of leukemia or lymphoma among all

Samsung says it will ‘carefully review’ an ongoing study and make any necessary changes in procedures.

workers employed in its semiconductor business from 1998 through April 2010. Among these cases, we are aware of 10 former employees who have passed away as a result of their illnesses.”

“Samsung maintains a world-class environment, health, and safety infrastructure,” wrote Staines, “and we continually make improvements and enhancements to ensure that it is state-of-the-art. We make these ongoing investments in the normal course of business, which includes careful review and implementation of recommendations that are presented to us through credible research.”

Samsung’s findings thus far mirror what the semiconductor industry has found in its investigations undertaken in response to revelations of comparable illnesses in similar circumstances in the U.K. and the U.S. While academic epidemiologists have found higher than expected incidences of cancers among semiconductor workers based on records from National Semiconductor in Scotland and from IBM in the U.S., the companies involved and the Semiconductor Industry Association have maintained that these studies are scientifically flawed and that there is no proof of a connection between chemical exposures and these illnesses. In 2008, the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) launched a study of cancer incidence among 28,000 former New York State IBM electronics plant workers, but it does not yet have any preliminary results.

In South Korea, two lawsuits brought on behalf of sickened Samsung workers against the Korea Workers Compensation and Welfare Service are now pending. The workers are suing the government agency for denying their compensation claims against Samsung. (In Korea, the government collects workers compensation funds from employers, adjudicates, and pays out claims.) One suit has been brought on behalf of six workers, five suffering from leukemia and one from lymphoma; the other, begun in 2011, is on behalf of four workers suffering from different diseases that include brain cancer. “It is important to note that Samsung is an interested party but not a defendant in this lawsuit,” wrote Staines.


From the Fields to Inner City,
Pesticides May Affect Kids’ IQ
From the Fields to Inner City, Pesticides Affect Children’s IQ
Scientists studying the effects of prenatal exposure to pesticides on the cognitive abilities of children have come to a troubling conclusion: Whether pregnant mothers are exposed in California fields or New York apartments, the chemicals appear to impair their children’s mental abilities.
Staines also noted that Samsung “has strengthened its support programs for employees who have developed serious illnesses” and that “the company is committed to providing support for hospital expenses and living expenses.” The Environ report commissioned by Samsung is due this summer.

In a May 31 email, Kong said that she had just met with the family of another leukemia victim who had worked in a semiconductor factory and was diagnosed at age 37, having worked in electronics plants for 14 years. “He had told his wife to go and meet me when he cannot overcome the cancer,” Kong wrote, “So his wife called me and we met.”

These illnesses — the blood cancers, lymphomas and nervous system and other blood diseases — are all symptomatic of solvent exposure, according to Hawes. These cases are “a red flag,” says Clapp. “If you want to find a cause for these illnesses, this is where you’d go to look.”

POSTED ON 09 Jun 2011 IN

elizabeth grossman ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elizabeth Grossman is the author of Chasing Molecules: Poisonous Products, Human Health, and the Promise of Green Chemistry, High Tech Trash: Digital Devices, Hidden Toxics, and Human Health, and other books. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Salon, The Washington Post, The Nation, Mother Jones, Grist, and other publications. In earlier articles for Yale e360, she explored how the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster could affect marine life off the Japanese coast and reported on recent studies suggesting a possible link between prenatal exposure to pesticides and the mental abilities of children.

© 2010

Wednesday, June 8, 2011



E-waste management 'not financially attractive'
Jamie Yap, ZDNet Asia on June 8th, 2011 (17 hours 11 minutes ago)

Disposing e-waste is not high up enterprises' priority lists because responsible management is not "financially attractive", said an industry watcher. Others say strong regulation and consumer demand for sustainable products needed.

According to David Moschella, global research director at CSC, a research and advisory firm, companies are not taking the e-waste issue seriously enough as most would hire a third-party to manage e-waste disposal for them.

Moreover, the issue of tackling rising volumes of obsolete, toxic-spilling electronic equipment possibly disposed illegally or unethically is "something vendors would rather not call attention to", he said in his e-mail.

Moschella said the e-waste problem will "absolutely" get worse in the short run because of the rising volumes of devices being built and disposed of. Unrecyclable parts, toxicity, time and costs incurred, and low public awareness all pose challenges to businesses' e-waste management, he added.

In the end, "being responsible is not financially attractive" for most companies as the costs of proper e-waste management often outweigh the benefits, he said.

Tom Dowdall, climate and energy campaigner at environment watchdog Greenpeace, disagreed and said in an e-mail that businesses would take e-waste seriously because reusing and recycling materials can reduce raw materials costs.

In addition, regulation such as the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive in the European Union, which stipulates collection and recycling targets of all electronic devices, make producers accountable for the costs of e-waste they produce, he noted.

Dowdall also pointed to Greenpeace's Toxic Tech campaign in 2005, which helped push companies to improve recycling services and change designs to make their products more reusable and recyclable. Lead and other heavy metals push recycling prices up too, which is why Greenpeace is campaigning for companies to phase out these materials from their products, he added.

Low public awareness
Besides grappling with financial implications, lack of public awareness is also hampering e-waste management efforts.

Francis Cheong, senior sustainability manager for Southeast Asia-Pacific at Nokia, argued that the main challenge with regard to e-waste is getting more people to recycle their devices. His observation stemmed from a 2008 internal consumer survey which found that 44 percent of old mobile phones are not being recycled.

He said there still is "a lot to be done" in terms of education and awareness. Nokia, for one, is working with external stakeholder such as business partners, schools and non-profit organizations to spread the mobile phone recycling message and participating in national green campaigns, he pointed out in his e-mail.

One example is how the Finnish phonemaker makes it convenient for customers to drop off their unwanted mobile phones and accessories at its Care Center, of which there are over 200 such facilities in Southeast Asia, Cheong pointed out.

He added that it also started an initiative with Singapore telco SingTel which allows customers to ask for recycling envelopes from shop outlets to drop off their unwanted used phones.

Electronics giant Panasonic commits to better e-waste management by assessing the environment impact of its product, from manufacturing to its end of life and being a "recycling-oriented manufacturer", said Low Beng Huat, general manager of Panasonic Asia-Pacific's regional planning and affairs group.

Asked if there are benefits to having proper e-waste management, he said having such processes help in protecting and conserving the environment, as well as reduce the company's dependence on virgin materials which helps, in turn, to lower the total costs of materials.

A shared responsibility
For a "successful and effective e-waste management system" to work though, Low said there must be defined responsibilities among key stakeholders. These include governments, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers. There must also be infrastructure in place to carry out recycling activities, he added.

Greenpeace's Dowdall agreed, saying that a long-term solution needs to be a combination of "progressive action from companies" to produce sustainable products, strong regulations which makes companies accountable for products over the whole lifestyle, and growing consumer awareness and demand for sustainable products.

Monday, May 9, 2011


Koula Hassid kindly sent me this link Children of Sodom and Gomorrah


Thursday, April 21, 2011



Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Solar Power Inc. installs PV array on movie studio
Chris Meehan

Feb 28, 2011

The spotlight shining on actors shooting movies at Twentieth Century Fox Film’s historic Building 99 is powered by the sun thanks to a new photovoltaic array on its roof. On Feb. 22 Solar Power, Inc. (OTCBB: SOPW) said it completed the installation of a 160-kilowatt photovoltaic array.

It’s just the latest effort of parent company, New Corp.’s (NASDAQ: NWS), larger sustainability campaign dubbed the Global Energy Initiative.

Solar Power Inc. installed the system using its SkyMount racking system. The racking system is unique in that it’s adaptable to various rooftops with minimal rooftop penetration. And it was able to conform to the barrel-shaped roof of the building, according to a Solar Power case study of the system.

The Twentieth Century Fox Film solar installation was designed to provide power for onsite use.

“It’s behind the meter, used to power onsite needs and reduce the amount of electricity they get off the meter,” said Solar Power, Inc. Vice President of Marketing Mike Anderson. He wasn’t sure what percentage of power consumed at the Fox Film site would come from the array. “I can tell you it’s not offsetting all their power, just a portion.”

At present, this is the only project that Solar Power has with the film studio’s parent company News Corp. But it’s not the only sustainability project that News Corp. has underway through its Global Energy Initiative projects. It’s also installing a 4.1-megawatt photovoltaic array at its 2,000 employee Dow Jones headquarters in South Brunswick, N.J.

When completed, the Dow Jones array will provide 50 percent of the facility’s electric needs during peak-sunlight hours. In December, 2.5 megawatts, 60 percent, of that installation was completed, powered on and connected to the grid, News Corp. said.

The phase was also completed four months ahead of schedule.

Under News Corp.’s Global Energy Initiative, the company has been reducing its carbon footprint and energy use. In 2010, the company purchased 642,765 metric tons of carbon dioxide offsets.

“Enough to cover our entire fiscal year 2010 carbon footprint,” the company said.

The offsets included such diverse things as investments in landfill gas collection, wind farms and biomass projects. Its efforts were enough to earn the media conglomerate the second highest rating among S&P 500 companies in the 2010 Carbon Disclosure Report.

Solar Power has another potential array in the works with another studio, Anderson said.

“We are looking at other major motion picture studios that are looking to mitigate energy cost and those that are looking to grow their sustainability initiatives,” he said. “Solar generation becomes something they tend to look at pretty quickly. It makes economic sense and environmental sense.”

Monday, February 7, 2011

EU grows up? down? sideways?

European Parliament gets tough on WEEE directive
TechEye talks to TCO
07 Feb 2011 13:29 | by Andrea Petrou | posted in Business

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European Parliament gets tough on WEEE directive -

The European Parliament is tightening up on electronic waste policies, adding new pieces of legislation to the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive.

It has voted for tougher regulations on the disposal of electronic trash, requiring each country to collect 4kg of e-waste per citizen by 2012, and to process 85 percent of all electronic waste by 2016.

According to TCO Certified, the E-waste stream is growing at a rate three times faster than the overall waste stream. The organisation said that researchers estimate that the amount of global E-waste will be close to 73 billion kg annually by 2015.

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The fact that only a fraction of the E-waste produced today is recycled responsibly adds to the problem. Computers and office electronics account for 40 percent of lead and 70 percent of heavy metals, including mercury and cadmium, in landfills.

It said this shows not only how polluting these products are but also what a waste of resources it is, according to the Basel Action Network the average PC contains up to 27 different kinds of metals of various hazardousness. Many of these metals are scarce and getting more and more difficult and expensive to mine.

Before the WEEE directive was put into force in 2008, both manufacturers and countries would export their electronic waste illegally to third world countries, where it was disposed of in unsafe ways.

Now the European Parliament has decided that it wants a higher collection target and a separate reuse target. Both were pushed through after delays from October with a majority of 580 votes to 37.

In addition MEPs recommend a 50-75 percent recycling target, and suggested a separate re-use target, initially set at five percent.

They also addressed the problem of large volumes of e-waste being falsely declared as ‘reusable' and illegally exported to developing countries.

To ensure these shipments are reduced, they want stricter inspections of deployments, as well as ensuring the exporter should carry the burden of proof that the goods are actually reusable.

According to Emma Sjögren at TCO Certified, this is especially important as these products contain halogenated substances and chemicals and materials containing chlorine and bromine are causing concern in developing countries without recycling facilities today. Uncontrolled Incineration of brominated and chlorinated compounds forms other compounds such as dioxins and furans, many of them highly toxic and, for example, carcinogenic.

"Many of these substances are known to have serious health and environmental effects (most substances are not yet tested). Brominated flame retardants have been used for over 30 years to prevent the ignition of a material and limit the spread of fire," she told TechEye.

"The purpose of flame retardants is to provide protection throughout the product lifecycle. Therefore, they are deliberately constructed not to degrade meaning that once in the environment they persist, often transported by air and water far away from the initial point of pollution.

She added that it was primarily when the IT products were scrapped that problems arise.

"The substances containing bromine and chlorine leak out and, because their degradability is poor, they remain in the environment for a long time," she said.

"Only a small proportion of the world’s electronic goods are reused in a controlled way – for example, large numbers of end-of-life products are shipped to Asia or Africa where they are burned in backyards without any protective equipment – so this is a major and growing problem."

TCO added that as long as these chemicals were used, and the recycling of electrical products are not controlled, the quantities of brominated and chlorinated flame retardants in the environment will increase.

"Even if their use were discontinued today, they would remain in the environment long into the future," Emma added.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

from greenelectronics

Today we learned that Kim Joo hyun, a 26-year-old man who worked in the Samsung electronics LCD factory in Chun-ahn city in Korea, jumped from the roof of the dormitory and killed himself in the early morning of January 1, 2011. He suffered from skin disease due to chemicals and depression because of severe job stress. This shocking news is even more disturbing since it follows a rash of similar suicides by young workers at the Foxconn factory in China and inspires us to increase our determination to bring justice for the Samsung workers and families.

In memory of Kim Joo hyun, we ask that you join the Samsung Accountability Campaign. The Samsung Accountability Campaign is calling on Samsung to accept responsibility for occupational deaths and to Provide Safe and Decent Working Conditions

Over the past two decades, Samsung has become one of the most dominant electronics companies in the world, and is now a global leader in semiconductors, flat panel displays, mobile phones, and television production. Sadly, this rapid rise to global dominance has come with serious consequences for the workers who produce the products – recent reports indicate that about 100 workers – mostly young women - have been stricken with cancer – mostly blood cancers - and at least 30 of them have died – making this the one of the largest known electronics cancer clusters in the world. (See for more information).

Samsung has denied all responsibility for these illnesses and the Korean government has declined to declare the cancers “work related” and refuses to disclose results of its investigation of Samsung. In response, a strong support movement led by the victims and their families has emerged in Korea and around the world and is seeking justice for those who have suffered from occupational illness.

Over the past months, hundreds of key activists and leaders from around the world have endorsed a petition addressing Samsung over occupational heath and safety issues. The petition contains a list of precise demands to Samsung. Read the entire petition text and the list of endorsements here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

the new world of the eco-ad


CBS 'EcoAd' Pays 10% to Local E-causes

The Eye Network's New Pitch: Buy a Spot, Save the Planet

By Brian Steinberg

Published: January 10, 2011

NEW YORK ( -- Going green is nice, but getting caught "greenwashing" -- doing environmental promotions that are all talk and no action -- isn't. CBS Corp. is hoping some of its advertisers will take this under advisement and put their money where their mouths are when they talk about acting in the best interest of the planet.

The company, best known for its TV network and programs such as "CSI" and "NCIS," is unveiling a new form of advertising it calls an "EcoAd." Marketers who commit to this sort of promotion can purchase ad packages across CBS's various holdings -- national and local TV, radio, outdoor, online and more -- with the understanding that approximately 10% of the money committed to the sponsorship will be used to fund environmental-improvement efforts at the local level.

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To signal that a marketer's ads are part of the program, CBS will air ads that are part of its "EcoAd" effort with a green-leaf logo for TV, interactive and outdoor advertising and an audio identifier on radio.
At present, the advertisers who have signed up -- clients include General Motors' Chevrolet, SunPower, O Organics, Boston Scientific, Pacific Coast Termite, Port of Los Angeles and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers -- have purchased advertising that will be seen at the local level, not on CBS's broadcast-TV network. But the media company has hopes of capturing national advertising and will this week launch a promotion on CBS and its other media properties touting the "EcoAd." With actor Laurence Fishburne narrating, viewers will be told to "Look for the Leaf" as a signal that the ad is doing something more than just hyping the latest beverages, cars and gadgets.

"Anyone can sell media and sprinkle a few dollars on environmental improvements and call it 'green media,'" said Paul Polizzotto, president and founder of EcoMedia, which CBS acquired in May of last year after working with the company for about two years. The unit maintains contact with local municipalities and searches for environmental projects that require more funding to be put into practice, he said. Advertiser dollars become the catalyst that sparks a local government to take an underfunded project off the shelf and push it toward completion.

Mr. Polizzotto said his company looks for projects that will increase the EcoMedia contribution ten-fold; a contribution of $100,000, for instance, would be added to a project that would, in total, be worth $1 million when all the money is put together. Advertisers can then tell consumers their advertising is part of a project to build new facilities for local residents, to maintain energy efficiency and even to create local jobs.

In Texas, Chevrolet is purchasing a sponsorship in the Dallas area that will have the usual coterie of local advertising, but also let area residents know that Chevy's ad dollars are helping to bring solar-powered, energy-efficient lighting and improved bathrooms to a nine-diamond baseball facility in Arlington, Texas.

The carmaker, which has been on an aggressive ad stint as of late, sees extra value in the PR and goodwill generated by informing consumers of Chevy's donations to local environment projects.

"For me to just go and use advertising dollars to talk more about our carbon-reduction initiative -- it helps, but it doesn't hit home with as many people as I would like it to," said Mark Harland, regional marketing manager for Chevrolet's south central region, which includes Dallas, New Orleans and St. Louis. "If I go into your backyard, where your son or daughter is playing baseball," he added, "that makes a direct impact in a community." The effort offers "a little more context to people in that community and there's a lasting effect. It's not just a 30-second commercial."

CBS appears to be riding a wave of interest by advertisers in linking their sales messages to noble causes. Who hasn't been buffeted by a wave of commercials that tie the product being sold to efforts to help improve the world or a consumer's well-being? From Pepsi's "Refresh" project to Coca-Cola's efforts to link Diet Coke with heart health, marketing initiatives these days hope to appear more relevant by weaving themselves more intricately into the stuff that motivates individual customers.

Other media outlets have tackled this notion. NBC Universal has in recent years begun selling advertising attached to content dedicated to health or the environment. The company's "Green is Universal" efforts have attracted such marketers as Subaru, Home Depot and Procter & Gamble.

The environmental push isn't completely altruistic. For CBS, cultivating such ad revenue can help the company broaden its base. The majority of CBS's ad revenue comes from its broadcast network, but helping to develop local environmental projects can help lure ad dollars to CBS operations that gain their traction at the local level.

Consumer Electronics Show

Greenpeace interview

the green commercial?


When It Comes to Commercials, Target, Others Keep It Green

How Much Waste Do Your Shoots Generate?

By Natalie Zmuda and Andrew Hampp

Published: January 10, 2011

NEW YORK ( -- On a late-December morning in Pasadena, Calif., Target was shooting what seemed to be a typical 15-second spot. A little girl was huddled at a kitchen table on an artificially bright and sunny day, awaiting further instruction from veteran commercial director Phil Morrison, while outside raged one of the rainiest days in recent history for Southern California. But far from typical was that in the 12 hours it would take to nail the shot of the girl eating Oreos and shoot two other 15-second spots, hundreds of pounds of commercial-production waste was gathered to be recycled or composted.

That's due to a partnership between Target, which says it has incorporated environmental sustainability into its business strategy for more than three decades, and EcoSet Consulting. The 2-year-old North Hollywood, Calif.-based firm focuses on greening commercial, TV and film sets and is now working with Target on 90% of the retailer's commercials. Wieden & Kennedy is Target's agency.

Hundreds of pounds of waste were recycled and reused to "green" this Target shoot.
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Since spring 2009, Target and EcoSet claim to have diverted 100,016 pounds from landfills, which is 85% of all waste generated by Target's broadcast shoots in Los Angeles. Some 35,400 plastic water bottles have been replaced by reusable bottles and reusable materials have been donated to more than 85 nonprofits and community organizations. Costumes have been donated to families in need and a swing set removed from a location for aesthetic reasons was donated to a children's center, for example. Even a 600-pound foam watering can find a second life as an art installation at a flower show.

Similarly, 280 pounds, or 88% of waste from a one-day Honda CR-V shoot last summer was diverted, according to data provided by EcoSet and Honda agency Rubin Postaer Associates, or RPA. At that shoot, walkie-talkies were charged using a solar-powered charging station and discarded gels, duvetyne and cinefoil (black materials used to absorb light on shoots) were donated to students at the American Film Institute.

'Natural progression'
Andrew Winston, a sustainability consultant and author of two books on green business, said he hasn't heard of a company like EcoSet before, but he approved.

"It's an industry that hasn't been leading in sustainability. But it's an industry waking up to the real impact it has," Mr. Winston said of commercial, film and TV production. "It's a natural progression, with media companies and advertisers thinking not just about their own operations and the products they sell but advertising and the media outlets they use."

At this point, Target is EcoSet's most consistent client, though execs said they have gradually begun receiving more inquiries from agencies and production companies. At the request of Green Tea Films, EcoSet worked on a Walgreen's shoot, for example. In the coming year, Shannon Schaefer, EcoSet's founder and owner, expects more marketers will also seek out EcoSet's services, as they, like Target, align internal sustainability efforts with other areas of the business.

"It's a relatively new company and a new concept," said Ms. Schaefer, who began working full-time as NBC Universal's manager-sustainable production shortly after founding EcoSet. "The traction we've gotten is positive. People are very excited and want to take part but are still figuring out ... how to take the corporation's sustainability mandate or messaging and bring it into the advertising."

While many marketers have turned to carbon offsets to "green" commercial production in the past, EcoSet and others like it (operations with similar visions have begun cropping up in New York, New Orleans, Austin, New Mexico and abroad in markets like Australia and the U.K., said Ms. Schaefer) represent a more tangible approach.

In short, EcoSet is intent on making production itself more sustainable, rather than turning to carbon offsets as a singular solution to balancing wasteful production. (Worth noting, Nike announced it was abandoning the practice of purchasing carbon offsets last year.) It's an admirable goal, considering commercial production alone produces about 18 million pounds of waste per year, half of which is food-related. But EcoSet has its work cut out. Commercial sets are among the trickiest production environments around, when it comes to going green, said Kris Barberg, account manager-client liaison for EcoSet.

"Most shoots are only five, six days at the most and everything is so temporary, so fast-paced that it's challenging to do the right thing," Ms. Barberg said.

EcoSet's work begins before the shoot, with coordination between the catering company and location manager. It also reviews creative boards or scripts to determine what types of props will need to be donated. During a shoot the set is staffed with eco-monitors, who set up composting stations, distribute reusable water bottles and oversee waste and recycling stations.

And, because of the often-overwhelming and costly nature of gathering resources for a green shoot, EcoSet advises productions about the materials needed, from reusable water bottles to biodiesel generators to recycling and composting bins. EcoSet's waste hauler also takes food, bones, soiled paper and compostable dinnerware from the set to a commercial composting site north of Los Angeles.

'Save a tree, use a noodle'
Even on-set utensils are green. At the Target shoot, the silverware was made of corn starch and talc, while the coffee stirrers were wheat pasta noodles. "We call it the 'save a tree, use a noodle campaign,'" joked Ms. Barberg.

While the process is hands-on, Target says it's not intrusive or costly.

"It's been very easy [to implement]," said Shawn Gensch, VP-brand marketing at Target. "There's seamless integration and great communication [on set]."

Mr. Gensch added that there have not been incremental expenses. It's about choices, he said, such as choosing to have a biodiesel generator or choosing not to use plastic silverware. EcoSet also provides documentation from donations for tax purposes.

"[Commercial shoots] are an area that had not been addressed, so we wanted to give the proper attention to it," Mr. Gensch said. "We do believe this is something that can materially impact production on location."

Laura Commike Gitman, director-advisory services at Business for Social Responsibility, a global business network and consultancy focused on sustainability, echoed that sentiment. "The media industry is a large and growing industry and one of the U.S.'s largest exports," she said. "Finding environmental opportunities throughout the media sector is going to be an important way to have an impact."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

nice LA Times BLOG

CES: Consumer Electronics Assn. and Greenpeace say gadgets getting more green
January 6, 2011 | 8:01 am
Though much of the technology being showcased at CES is user-friendly, it’s got a ways to go before it’s truly eco-friendly. But companies are getting close, according to two studies released at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.

The Consumer Electronics Assn. said that nearly 49 million products on the market are registered with the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool.

Roughly 27,000 product models meet Energy Star energy-efficiency standards, according to the report, and more manufacturers are using renewable packaging material such as bio-based plastics instead of clamshell cases.

In 2009, the industry recycled 200 million pounds of electronics at 5,000 permanent collection sites around the country.

Separately, Greenpeace reviewed more than 40 products and declared the industry to be increasingly attuned to green business practices. Companies are cutting back on hazardous chemicals in phones, televisions and computers, the environmental group said.

Glass used for screens no longer contains arsenic, and the use of mercury is declining as more companies turn to LED displays.

But efforts to green the entire product life cycle are still few and far between, according to Greenpeace. Companies rarely track the amount of energy they use in manufacturing and distribution.

Short warranties cause many gadgets to be thrown out within three years, and marketing eco-friendly offerings to consumers isn’t a priority, the survey found.

Participants included Dell, Motorola, Panasonic, Research in Motion, Samsung and Toshiba. Apple and Philips bowed out, but Greenpeace looked at some of their products anyway –- and concluded that they would have performed well against competitors.

Read the report here: Download Greenpeace Product Survey 2011

But some said the electronics industry should start its greening campaign with CES itself. Virtual-event producer ON24 concluded that if the Las Vegas show were to go entirely digital, it could avoid 179,000 tons of carbon emissions and 1.4 million pounds of waste.

The roughly 125,000 attendees would save 136 million miles spent flying to and from the show. Digital documents could take the place of 2 million sheets of paper.

Last year, show organizers said they recycled 68% of the waste generated by CES attendees -– a total of 372 tons of cardboard, paper, metal, wood, carpet padding and plastic.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Independent publishers ask--how green are e-books?

Is E-Reading Really Greener?

Raz Godelnik
August, 2010

Is E-Reading Really Greener?

by Raz Godelnik

The emergence of e-book readers, starting with the release of Amazon’s Kindle in November 2007 and through the launch of Apple’s iPad in April 2010, is changing the book industry. No doubt about that. But is it also making reading more sustainable? Is it really greener to abandon the good old print-on-paper book for a cool gadget that holds hundreds of books without causing back strain?

With publishers’ and readers’ awareness of environmental issues growing and the market share of e-books, while still very small, growing very fast, the question arises for a growing number of publishers, authors, booksellers, and readers.

Intuitively it seems like a no-brainer—with e-book readers, no paper is required; no trees are cut down; no books need to be shipped and stored. Can it get any better than that?

Well, I wish it was that simple, but it isn’t. Just like physical books, e-books that are read on the Kindle, iPad, Nook, or any other device have their ecological footprint. The question is: which option, print or digital, has a smaller footprint?

To find that out, we need to use a life cycle analysis (LCA), which evaluates the ecological impact of any product, at every stage of its existence—in this case, from cutting down trees for paper to the day when the iPad and the Kindle will end their lives.

Toxic Waste Issues

Any analysis of e-readers must take a couple of significant factors into consideration:

Materials. Consumer electronics are notorious for containing a variety of toxic materials. Some companies are more transparent than others and make it relatively clear that their e-reader devices are free of toxic materials like PVC (Sony and Apple) and BFRs and mercury (Apple). But as Casey Harrell, an international campaign coordinator for Greenpeace, which monitors the environmental impact of consumer electronics, told the New York Times, e-readers remain something of an unknown variable.

“In terms of the Kindle or other similar e-book gadgets, I don’t know what chemicals are in or out,” Harrell said. “Companies will want to brag about their eco-credentials,” he points out, so if you don’t see any mention, the chemicals have probably not been eliminated.

Recycling. Electronic waste is becoming a growing environmental problem, and even though companies like Apple and Amazon have recycling programs in place, there’s a good chance e-readers will contribute to the electronic waste stream.

According to the EPA, Americans generated about 3 million tons of electronic waste in 2007. Out of all that waste, only 13.6 percent was recycled. The rest ended up in landfills or incinerators, even though, as the Electronic TakeBack Coalition explains, the hazardous chemicals in them can leach out of landfills into groundwater and streams.

And even the 13 percent that is supposedly recycled is not necessarily safe. According to the Electronic TakeBack Coalition, most recycling firms take the low road, exporting instead of recycling. From 50 to 80 percent of e-waste that is collected for recycling is shipped overseas for dismantling under unsafe conditions, harming people’s health, land, air, and water in developing countries in Asia and Africa.

About Energy Consumption and Unknowns

Three other issues are important as well.

First, a lot of necessary information on e-readers is missing.

When it comes to physical books we have all the information we need, but the situation with e-readers is getting more complicated, as most of the required information is not available. If you try to find out about the environmental impacts of Amazon’s Kindle or B&N’s Nook, good luck with that. Except for Apple, none of the companies that sell e-readers makes environmental data available.

When Joe Hutsko of the New York Times tried to learn more about the Kindle, he reported, “Phone calls and e-mail messages to Amazon inquiring about the materials in the popular Kindle device have thus far gone unanswered.”

Second, even as e-readers are becoming more energy-efficient (for example, Amazon’s Kindle and B&N’s Nook use E Ink technology, which is significantly more power-efficient than an LCD screen), this is not the full story. E-readers are also part of a wave of mobile devices that increasingly depend on the Internet and data centers to deliver hosted services and digital content, and hence will contribute to a rapid growth in energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with so-called cloud computing over the coming years.

Third, as we’ll see, even the LCA, thorough as it can get, leaves some territories unexplored, including social implications. Could we say e-books are greener if, for example, we find out they’re performing better on the life cycle assessment, but at the same time we learn that they’re manufactured in sweatshops where working conditions are deplorable?

Life Cycle Consequences

But LCA is still the best tool we’ve got, so let’s see what we can learn from it, using information provided by Apple on its iPad. (There was one attempt to do LCA for the Kindle, but I found it not valid due to lack of information.)

Recently Daniel Goleman and Gregory Norris presented their life cycle assessment comparing Apple’s iPad to physical books in a New York Times op-ed piece.

Using the available information and looking at the iPad only as an e-reader—putting aside all the other functions it has—their conclusion regarding the breakeven point was, “When it comes to global warming, though, it’s 100 books.” In other words, you need to replace a purchase of at least 100 physical books with 100 books on your iPad to make it a greener option from a carbon footprint standpoint.

I think the breakeven point is lower. When I compared the carbon footprint of the iPad Wi-Fi + 3G Model provided by Apple (130 kg CO2) with the carbon footprint of an average physical book (7.46 kg CO2, as provided by Cleantech report), I found a breakeven point of 17.4 books, meaning that in terms of carbon footprint, the iPad becomes a more environmental friendly alternative option for book reading once its user reads the 18th book on it.

But as Goleman and Norris show, the carbon footprint is just one part of the comparison. With respect to fossil fuels, water use, and mineral consumption, one e-reader has as much impact as 40–50 print-on-paper books. And with respect to human health consequences, they claim the figure is somewhere between 50 and 100 books.

The implications of the breakeven point depend on two elements—how many years a consumer will use an e-reader before switching to a newer one, and how many books the consumer reads. For a bookworm who plans to keep using an e-reader for couple of years, it may actually become a greener option. But someone who (like most Americans) reads only six to seven books a year and switches to a newer e-reader version within three to four years may not be going green.

We also have to remember that physical books can improve their ecological footprint, and they are slowly doing that. We see increasing use of recycled and FSC-certified paper, as well as greater adoption of sustainable practices in the industry. Although there’s still much to be done, progress in the last couple of years has been impressive, and it seems likely to continue as publishers identify going green not only as beneficial to the environment, but also as beneficial to business.

We are, of course, only on the first part of a long journey, and I believe e-readers will get more eco-friendly in time. The future of the book industry will probably include “greener” versions of both physical and electronic books. And, with more pressure from consumers, companies may not only start revealing all the information about their e-readers, but actually compete on which one has the greenest e-reader to offer.

Raz Godelnik is the co-founder and CEO of Eco-Libris. Founded in 2007, Eco-Libris is a green company working with publishers, authors, bookstores, and book lovers worldwide to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books. For more information, go to

IBPA, the Independent Book Publishers Association