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[GreenYes] Environmentalists take their battle to boardrooms (e-Waste)


http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/2002/04/09/recycle.htm


                 Environmentalists take their battle to boardrooms

                 By Michelle Kessler, USA TODAY

                 SAN FRANCISCO ? Environmentalists are taking their case
against
                 computer-related toxic waste to the industry's
boardrooms.

                 Social investment firm Calvert
                 Group filed shareholder
                 resolutions last week against
                 Gateway and Hewlett-Packard,
                 asking them to study the
                 environmental impact of used
                 personal computers.

                 Computers and other electronics
                 contain toxic chemicals that can leak into the
environment when they are
                 thrown away.

                 Shareholder resolutions have helped activists challenge
everything from
                 genetically modified food to apartheid. They've
successfully persuaded
                 companies such as Home Depot, DuPont and Walt Disney to
change their
                 policies.

                 Calvert and other shareholder groups are trying to
force changes at many PC
                 makers. While stockholders are not expected to approve
any of the
                 resolutions, activists hope they'll gain enough votes
to force management to
                 deal with the issue.

                 Gateway has been the most opposed to the study, says
Ted Smith of the
                 Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, an advocacy group
helping Calvert.

                 Activists hoped to reach an informal agreement with the
computer maker,
                 Smith says. But the company's unwillingness to talk
forced the group to file
                 the formal resolution, he says. Gateway shareholders
will vote on it during
                 their annual meeting in May.

                 Gateway spokesman Brad Williams says that Gateway is
committed to the
                 environment. But it wasn't willing to spend money for a
study. Also, Williams
                 says that Calvert did not do its homework when checking
on Gateway's
                 recycling efforts.

                 Shareholders of Compaq Computer and Hewlett-Packard
also will get to
                 vote on the issue. The companies are pursuing a $19.9
billion merger. H-P,
                 for one, has not yet publicly denounced the resolution.

                 Apple Computer has already agreed to perform the study
Calvert requested.
                 Because Apple is cooperating, Calvert withdrew its
resolution against the
                 company.

                 IBM has refused to do the study. But Calvert's
resolution against it was
                 forced off the ballot on a technicality. Critics say
that is IBM's way of ducking
                 the issue. The computer maker says it's still working
with Calvert.

                 No resolution has been passed against Dell Computer,
the No. 1 PC maker.
                 It holds its annual shareholder meeting later than many
other computer makers
                 and is still negotiating with activists.

                 The activists say they're taking up the issue because
electronic waste is a
                 growing problem.

                 About 1.8 million tons of electronic waste were created
in the USA in 1999,
                 according to the latest Environmental Protection Agency
data.

                 "There are tens of millions of computers piling up in
landfills," says Conrad
                 MacKerron, director of share▓╦ućer action group As You
Sow. "Computer
                 companies have not gotten their act together to take
responsibility."


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