Electronics Coalition Targets Samsung For Use Of Toxic Metals

SamsungThe Electronics TakeBack Coalition has launched a marketing campaign attacking Samsung for what it considers a weak stance on environmental protection and electronics recycling. The "Take Back My TV" campaign aims to make consumers aware of toxic metals used to manufacture TVs and other electronic devices prior to 2005.

The coalition hits Samsung through an online game; protests; environmental, tech and business bloggers; e-mail blasts; and half-page ads that ran this week in two local newspapers near Samsung facilities in Texas and New Jersey, The Plano Star Courier and The Record/Herald News, respectively. The group wants to make the point to consumers that Samsung has been using the Olympics theme, spending millions on an ad campaign, rather than funding a take-back program for potentially toxic components in old TVs.



The coalition's site, Metal Mania (www.takebackmytv.com/content/metal-mania/), allows consumers to hunt for gold, but they find the toxic metals mercury and cadmium instead. It spoofs Samsung's site, Medal Mania (www.medalmania.com), which the Olympic Games sponsor introduced to let consumers find gold and win prizes. The game runs through Aug. 24.

A message on the Electronic TakeBack Coalition's Web site prompts consumers to write Samsung and ask that they take environmental responsibility by launching "a winning recycling program for their old televisions and other products," similar to Sony's and LG's programs.

"We would love to see Samsung go for the gold to help consumers recycle, but for now they haven't done anything," says Barbara Kyle, national coordinator for the Electronics TakeBack Coalition. "Samsung isn't the only electronics company doing something wrong. They just happen to be the market leader."

"Samsung has numerous take-back and recycle initiatives throughout the company, including the S.T.A.R. Toner Recycling Program for printer cartridges and the Samsung Mobile Take-back and Recycling Program for end-of-life mobile devices," said Samsung in a statement. The company also says it is "piloting television take-back and recycling programs in 14 U.S. states.

The campaign also talks to Sharp, Toshiba, Visio, and other TV manufacturers that ask consumers to replace their old stuff with new without having a take-back program.

Kyle says governments may have banned the use of mercury and other toxins, but companies still build materials into products just above the safety threshold required to make lamps and LCD [liquid crystal display] products. The bigger issue: Many consumers have been replacing new TVs with those sold before environmental regulations like the U.S. e-waste or European RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) and WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) went into effect.

Governments and non-profit organizations throughout Europe and the United States have put pressure on manufacturers to adopt systems and business processes that ensure that electronic components built into devices are free from toxins. States in the U.S. also have begun to pass e-waste legislation.

The group had also put pressure on PC manufacturers, such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard, which now have take-back recycling programs as a way to protect the environment.

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