The GoodElectronics Network and the International Campaign for Responsible Technology (ICRT) have been awarded the 2016 Public Interest Advocate Award by the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC) for their work on the responsible management of hazardous chemical substances during the production process of ICT hardware.
The GoodElectronics Network and the International Campaign for Responsible Technology (ICRT) have been awarded the 2016 Public Interest Advocate Award by the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC) for their work on the responsible management of hazardous chemical substances during the production process of ICT hardware. In announcing the award, the SPLC declared that the actions of the both network organisations “have enabled institutional purchasers to better understand and take responsibility for the consequences of their spending”.
Alejandro Gonzalez (coordinator GoodElectronics): “We feel honoured to receive this award on behalf of all members of the GoodElectronics Network as it highlights and promotes our efforts towards guaranteeing respect of human rights, workers’ rights and the environment throughout the entire production cycle of the electronic industry“.
Problems with chemicals use in electronics industry
The use of chemicals in the electronics industry cause illness and deaths upon workers over the world. Civil society organisations report hundreds of cases of electronics production workers who have fallen ill over the past few years in China, Thailand and South Korea from exposure to benzene and other chemicals used in electronics manufacturing. The illness patterns are very similar to the illnesses originally documented in Silicon Valley during the early days of electronics manufacturing.
Activities of GE and ICRT on chemicals
On March 2015, ICRT, GoodElectronics with support of allies around the world issued the ‘Chemicals Challenge’ to the electronics industry, calling upon them to adopt safer and more sustainable manufacturing practices and to proactively reduce and eliminate chemical and physical hazards through the development and adoption of safer alternatives. More than 200 civil society organisations and individuals from more than 40 countries have endorsed the Chemicals Challenge. Later they published ‘Meeting the Challenge with detailed recommendations for the industry.
The overall response of the electronics industry to the Chemicals Challenge has been one of 'wait and see'. Individuals companies contacted by ICRT and GoodElectronics all deferred to the position of the industry body Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC). ICRT and GoodElectronics have entered into a dialogue with EICC.
The concerns about human rights and workers’ rights abuses in relation to occupational health and safety and protection of environment remain unabated as gross violations persist.
Ted Smith (ICRT): “We will continue our work on chemical safety. Currently we are working on a gap analysis that identifies weaknesses in the EICC code and audit protocol and compares them to the Chemicals Challenge. We have offered to engage with the industry to work together for safer chemicals. This award encourages us to carry on.”