Green IT in a developing country

On the day a UN-sponsored summit on global warming opened in the island of Bali in Indonesia, a much smaller gathering of IT players also took place in the Philippines to address a contentious issue bugging the industry and the whole country in general--the threat of electronic waste.That conference on green IT was organized by CyberPress, or the IT Journalists Association on the Philippines, which I'm heading right now.

On the day a UN-sponsored summit on global warming opened in the island of Bali in Indonesia, a much smaller gathering of IT players also took place in the Philippines to address a contentious issue bugging the industry and the whole country in general--the threat of electronic waste.

That conference on green IT was organized by CyberPress, or the IT Journalists Association on the Philippines, which I'm heading right now. We decided not to get any sponsors for that event because we wanted to give our main speaker, Greenpeace Philippines, a free hand to discuss anything related to the topic.

In front of local IT executives, the activist environmental group presented the latest quarterly report of its Guide to Greener Electronics which named game consoles as the least environment-friendly electronic gadgets.

Beau Baconguis, toxic tech waste campaigner of Greenpeace Philippines, cited the environmental effort of the trade department for its collective takeback scheme for junk cellular phones. However, she said this is not the way to go.

Instead, Baconguis urged local IT companies to adopt an individual takeback program because they know exactly what substance they put into their own products, and therefore would know how to dispose of it properly.

Putting the responsibility directly on the shoulders of the IT companies, the Greenpeace official said PC and mobile phone makers have the moral, if not legal, obligation to recover and recycle their electrical and electronic wastes.

It was at this point that the forum achieved its goal of achieving a meaningful public discourse when representatives of IT companies embraced the Greenpeace proposal, with local officials of Lenovo and IBM saying they would forward the suggestion to their headquarters to implement an individual takeback scheme in the Philippines.

For its part, Board of Investment director Domingo Bagaporo said the government recognizes the merits of the suggestion and will thus consider it as the trade department winds down its cellphone waste collection and recycling program. The pilot project, which has Glorietta, Greenhills, SM Megamall as collection points, will run up to December 31.

Just like the Bali summit, the small conference held at the Filipinas Heritage Library in Makati City set lofty goals for the proper disposal of electronic waste in our country. But usually, it's the small steps, like the individual takeback program, that make the difference.

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