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Greenpeace targets Indian PC maker

Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on September 6, 2007

If there’s any company that has a chance of becoming India’s answer to Lenovo, it’s HCL. The PC maker is the top local brand, second in market share only to Hewlett Packard. Now HCL finds itself in the midst of an embarrassing fight with global environmental group Greenpeace. Last week, green activists staged a demonstration (or, as Greenpeace dramatically called it, a “Shame HCL” protest”) at the company’s headquarters in Noida, near Delhi. Greenpeace’s gripe: The demonstrators want HCL “to end the use of hazardous chemicals in its products and accept responsibility for its end-of-life products.” In a statement on its website, Greenpeace also criticized HCL’s policy on phasing out hazardous chemicals as “misleading ‘greenwash’.” Adds Greenpeace: “HCL has talked about ‘striving’ to phase out PVC and BFRs, once ‘economically viable technical solutions’ exist.”

For its part, HCL argues that it is doing nothing wrong. On its website, the company has a press statement from earlier this year from George Paul, the company’s executive vice president. According to Paul, “HCL, as a socially responsible corporate citizen, has a comprehensive program to ensure protection of environment, health and safety of all its stakeholders, which also recognizes the need to minimize the hazardous impact of e-wastes of its products on the environment.” The company has launched a new range of notebook PCs that are compliant with RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) standards.

Until recently, I bet few people outside of India would care much about the environmental bona fides of an Indian PC maker. India’s PC market was tiny, an afterthought for companies focusing more on important Asian markets like China and Japan. But the industry is now taking off as the government has eased tariffs on imported equipment and parts. Demand is soaring and companies like Dell, HP and Lenovo are all boosting their India investments. And with developing countries across Asia and Africa suffering from mountains of toxic e-waste imported from the West, maybe it’s not such a bad thing for greens to remind companies that they need to clean up their acts quickly.

Reader Comments


September 8, 2007 11:43 AM

Funny,there is no comparison to China. I thought in every article you have compare India to China and show how pathetic it is...whats happened to you?

Btw, this wont impact HCL's sales Im sure..Anyhow, India is a smaller market than china for notebooks....Food for your thought.


September 9, 2007 12:08 AM

Only about 15 out of every 1000 people own computers in India. Greenpeace must go after the bigger fish which are polluting the environment.
As the IT industry is relatively new in India, Greenpeace could easily succeed in pursuing the computer manufacturer to comply, however I am not sure about the heavily polluting vehicles, oil companies and pollution due to corrosion, the aging plants and industries of bureaucratic India.

September 11, 2007 7:39 PM

These fools are not just a nuisance but a cog in the wheel of technological progress in India. The Indian govt should arrest them and put them in prison and then throw away the keys. This is where they belong.

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Bloomberg Businessweek’s team of Asia reporters brings you the latest insights on business, politics, technology and culture from some of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies.

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