At the occasion of Acer’s CSR forum, environmental organisations in Taiwan formulate a series of solid demands to Acer and it suppliers. The emphasis is on the need to address the harmful effects for the environment and for local communities of Acer’s production processes.

News Release, Taiwan Environmental Action Network (TEAN), December 16, 2008

“Taiwan Environmental Organizations Confront Acer and Urge ACER to disclose its supply chains and ensure its suppliers cease poisoning the local environment and communities. In an effort to expose Acer’s hypocrisy, the Taiwan Environmental Action Network and local environmental groups from the Hsin-Chu Science Park, the Central Taiwan Science Park, as well as the Shiao-Li River Youth Task Force will host a press conference this afternoon (12/16) at Acer’s opening session of the CSR Forum.

Despite an appearance of inclusiveness, the CSR Forum on Dec. 16 is a private meeting between the high-ranking officials of Acer, other big IT corporations, and the representatives of the international CSR advocacy groups at the exclusion of local stakeholders. After the environmental actions on 15th, Acer’s decided to invite local groups to speak in the forum. Environmental groups are positive about Acer’s prompt response and immediate invitation. However, they are annoyed by Acer preset English meeting agenda which technically exclude local voices. Part of environmental organizational representatives will speak in the forum to unmask the cover-up by Acer, the high-tech industry, and the Taiwan government of the extent of high-tech pollution and associated health risks that have been inflicted on the local environment and communities. The NGO representatives will ask ACER to set a timeline for developing partnership with local stakeholders in order to solve local environmental problems.

Outside the forum, the protesting environmental groups will request that ACER address the environmental influences of the high-tech manufacturing in Taiwan. Through the use of performing arts, environmental groups show: on the one hand, Acer has appeared to “embrace” CSR in order to appease international organizations and consumers.  On the other hand, Acer has turned a blind eye to the environmental damages caused by its suppliers and spin-offs.  We implore our international friends to recognize the environmental influences by the high-tech manufacturing in their CSR assessment.

Most import of all, join the local efforts to watch Acer and its suppliers for their “real” CSR implementation.

The local environmental groups charge Acer’s suppliers—AUO and CPT—for the following acts of misconduct

  • AUO and CPT have continued to discharge wastewater into Shiao-Li River in Hsin-Chu County over the past eight years;
  • It has been determined by the courts in an environmental impact assessment that AUO has failed to meet government regulatory requirements for a future plant in Central Taiwan Science Park;
  •  There are incriminating evidence against Acer and its suppliers for arsenic pollution in the air and PFCs in the rivers around Hsin-Chu Science Park where these companies reside.

According to the principles of sustainability and end-of-life product management, Acer must do more than eliminate harmful chemicals from its products and achieve energy saving efficiencies in its production processes in order to meet EU regulations and international environmental NGOs’ demand.  Acer must also examine whether the harmful chemicals released by its suppliers inflict damage on the local environment and communities.  According to the Global Reporting Initiative G3 guidelines of the Global Sustainability Report, the quantities of wastewater discharge as well as the habitats potentially destroyed by the water discharge are both key environmental performance indicators of CSR.

Environmental groups seek to remind Acer of the responsibilities of a genuine CSR member

1.      Acer must be held accountable for the environment damage caused by its suppliers—Acer must end contracts with these suppliers now;

2.      Acer must assume the responsibility of auditing its suppliers and ensuring that its suppliers cease poisoning the local environment and communities;

3.      Acer must do more and at the very least catch-up to HP in its full disclosure of its supply chains;

4.      Meeting regulatory requirements on paper by no means equates meeting CSR standards.  Acer should work with local stakeholders to press the Taiwan government for more holistic environmental regulations, operational procedures, and implementation standards;

5.      Acer must implement real CSR plans, and be a genuine green corporation!

Over the years, the high-tech industry in Taiwan has thrived under the protective wings of the government.  At the same time, IT corporations have failed to internalize the environmental costs of their production; they have again and again evaded the pollution costs they have imposed onto the local environment and communities.  Furthermore, the high-tech industry has cloaked its deception through “compliance” with environmental regulations that are outdated and insufficient.

Existing regulation on the books has been outpaced by rapid technological change.  There is currently no written law that adequately regulates high-tech pollution on Taiwan.  As a result, IT corporations have easily slipped under the radar in their questionable environmental practices.

According to the GRI G3 guidelines, participation in public policy development is also a key performance indicator.  If Acer stands indifferent to the incomplete regulation that has resulted in systematic environmental negligence by the IT industry, Acer’s supposed winning corporation environmental report and today’s unprecedented forum on sustainability are merely greenwash tactics.

Local environmental groups strongly urge the Acer group to take the lead in investigating the environmental damages caused by the IT industry on Taiwan. We urge Acer to partner with local environmental groups in formulating progressive public policy and legislations by taking the following steps:

  • To develop a mechanism for comprehensive environmental impact assessments and to assist in the creation of a due process for civil society involvement.
  • To initiate the revision of the Taiwan government’s information disclosure rules and to upgrade the industrial pollution information guide with pollution maps.
  • To assist in the revision of government regulation on the management of hazardous chemicals and to implement a transparent reporting system for the use new chemicals, as well as a process for the risk assessment of these chemicals;
  • To assist in the formulation of responsible management standards regarding industrial wastewater, air pollution, waste substances, as well as to promote the decrease of hazardous emissions by the high-tech industry.
  •  To assist in the creation of the Environmental Responsibility Liability Act whereby polluters are responsible for the publication of safety advisories and reports.

Taiwan Environmental Action Network

Association Environment & Animal Society of Taiwan

Green Citizens’ Action Alliance

Hsin-Chu City Environmental Protect Association

Taiwan Environmental Protection Union- Changhua Division

Wild at Heart

Defense Association

Taiwan Academy of Ecology

Hou-Li Township Agriculture & Environmental Protection Association

Green Party Taiwan

Taiwan Watch Institute

Green Formosa Front Association

Taiwan Friends of the Global Greens.”