[GRRN] Stop the WTO Attack on Computer Recycling

Bill Sheehan (zerowaste@grrn.org)
Wed, 10 Nov 1999 08:27:23 -0500

----- Original Message -----
From: Bev Thorpe <bthorpe@web.net>
[for full alert, background and model letter, email Bev]


November 10, 1999


Leslie Byster or Ted Smith of Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition: cell: 206
228 6579 or 206 441 0101 x 324
Carol Dansereau of Washington Toxics Coalition: 206 632 1545
Jim Puckett of Asia Pacific Environmental Exchange: 206 720 6426
Beverley Thorpe of Clean Production Action; cell: 206 228 6579/206 441 0101
x 324

For the full background text on the scale and hazards of computer waste in
the USA visit the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition website at www.svtc.org
and click onto the Clean Computer Campaign.

Photos and video available from the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition

"Stop the WTO Attack on Computer Recycling" Citizens Urge Bill Gates

Piles of Old Computers Placed at Microsoft's World Headquarters

Computer users held a gathering outside Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond
near Seattle today to highlight a WTO attack on a European initiative to
increase computer recycling and ban highly toxic substances such as lead
and dangerous flame retardant chemicals in computers. Carrying discarded
computers labeled "e-toxics" and "e-waste", participants delivered a letter
to Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, urging his assistance to support the
initiative to clean up the industry.. Microsoft is an influential member
of the American Electronics Association which has blocked the European
initiative by arguing that it violates WTO agreements. Gates is also
co-chair of the Seattle Host Organization for the WTO.

"There is a growing e-waste crisis about to hit the US-the source is
computer junk", said Ted Smith, Executive Director of the Silicon Valley
Toxics Coalition. "When more than 315 million computers become obsolete in
4 years time, billions of pounds of waste will be generated and we
currently have no solution for it. Computers are becoming obsolete quicker
as new software products are put on the market," Smith said.

"We need to prevent worker exposures and global contamination by banning
lead and other persistent poisons in computers," said Carol Dansereau,
Executive Director of the Washington Toxics Coalition. Just recently,
computer dismantlers were found to have high level of dangerous flame
retardants in their blood. Microsoft must not support trade associations
that undermine pollution prevention in the computer industry, particularly
in light of the environmental commitment shared by so many Microsoft

In the letter to Bill Gates, the groups asked Microsoft to withdraw from
the American Electronics Association if the AEA does not cease its attack
on the European initiative.

"Microsoft must come clean and denounce this ugly use of the WTO to
undermine progressive environmental legislation," said Jim Puckett of the
Asia Pacific Environmental Exchange. "Today it is Europe's law that is
being sabotaged, tomorrow it could be our own."

"Strong initiatives like the directive in Europe are necessary so that
high-tech companies take responsibility for the products they produce and
move to clean and sustainable product design, added Beverley Thorpe of
Clean Production Action. Consumers want products free of hazardous
materials and we know industry can deliver if they're pushed. We intend to
make our voice heard a lot louder than in the past."


Carol Dansereau, J.D.
Executive Director,
Washington Toxics Coalition

Ted Smith
Executive Director
Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition and
Coordinator of the International Campaign for Responsible Technology

Jim Puckett
Director, Asia Pacific Environmental Exchange and Basel Action Network

Beverley Thorpe
Director, Clean Production Action