E-waste to increase after Vista: Greenpeace warns

Manila, 3 February 2007–Vista, Microsoft’s newest operating system, could trigger a deluge of E-waste in developing countries, Greenpeace warned today. The group argues that with Vista, more companies and individuals may feel the need to replace their existing computers sooner as these become incompatible with the new operating system. The result: massive volumes of computer scrap in dirty recycling yards and dumpsites in the Philippines, Thailand, and in other Asian countries where most of the world’s E-waste dumps are located.

“With Vista, Microsoft could effectively hasten the obsolescence of half the world’s PCs, especially in the absence of fully-functioning global take back systems for PCs,” said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Toxics Campaigner Beau Baconguis. “Companies will feel the need to upgrade more computers sooner–and when they do, the world is unfortunately not prepared for the massive E-waste the upgrades will generate.”

“As it is, the current environmental policies of computer companies are not enough to provide an effective solution to the growing mountains of toxic electronic waste from computer components. Microsoft should have factored in these consequences and should have laid out mitigating measures to minimize the problem of obsolescence, before they started introducing new innovations. Innovation should not translate to more pollution,” she added.

A study conducted by SoftChoice Corporation stated that 50% of the current breed of personal computers are “below Windows Vista’s basic system requirements” while 94% are not equipped to run on Windows Vista Premium edition.

The ability of PCs to be easily upgraded is also important if the massive volumes of E-waste is to be prevented. Greenpeace has been engaging manufacturers of PCs and mobile phones to phase out toxic substances in their products and institute take-back mechanisms for the same products at the end of their useful lives. The demand comes with a challenge to PC manufacturers to design their products so that these may be easily upgraded, disassembled, and recycled properly.

“We maintain that the useful lives of existing electronic and computer equipment should be prolonged as much as possible. In the end, this is about social responsibility. The idea that software innovation would result in more mountains of computer scrap ending up in the dumps of Asia and Africa, contaminating the environment, and affecting the health of communities, is both offensive and intolerable,” said Baconguis.

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organization which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environment problems, and to force the solutions which are essential to a green and peaceful future.

For more information:
Beau Baconguis, Toxics Campaigner, +63 917 803 6077
Lea Guerrero, Media Campaigner, +63 916 374 4969, +63 2 434 7034 loc