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Samsung makes chemical pledge

Monday 14 June 2004

mobileElectronics giant Samsung has vowed to phase out hazardous chemical content in its products following a collaboration with Greenpeace, in a significant corporate development before the EU makes its legislative verdict on the issue. The environmental group tested a range of consumer electronics, including a Samsung brand mobile phone and television, finding phthalates, brominated flame retardants and organotin compounds. Consultations between the two parties following the tests lead to the phase out pledge.

Samsung has agreed a schedule to stop using the substances in its products, and switch to cleaner alternatives. As a result, Greenpeace has upgraded Samsung on its product database, the first time a manufacturer has had its rating changed since the campaign began.

"Samsung is setting a trend in the field of substitution of hazardous chemicals in consumer products," commented Bart van Opzeeland of Greenpeace. "This should serve as an example for other companies and provide a roadmap for a new strict European chemicals policy, which the EU is currently developing."

The chemical industry, and to a lesser extent the consumer electronics industry with its degree of vested interest, has been seen as the main driving force behind the lamentable watering-down of the potentially groundbreaking REACH legislation in recent months. Samsung’s voluntary decision, and close co-operation with an NGO, perhaps hints at a step-change in thinking on the chemical issue from manufacturers – without the need for obligatory, law-enforced action.

“Their (Greenpeace’s) initial criticism motivated us to re-evaluate our goals and consider what is truly possible,” said Gregor Margetson, Head of European Environmental Affairs for Samsung Electronics Europe. “We choose to take the difficult option because we have ambitions to become a more sustainable company, and we realise that this prize comes at a price."

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