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Tell Nintendo To Take Care of Its E-Waste Problem

This petition had 218 supporters

Consumers are cycling through their electronic gadgets at record pace, but despite the growing pile of used devices, programs to safely recycle or dispose of toxic e-waste have not nearly kept up. Neither have many manufacturers' efforts to reduce the nasty metals and chemicals inside their products.

Low wage laborers—whether in China, India or, as a recent Justice Department investigation found, in our U.S. prisons—often pay the price of this disconnect when they pick through e-waste piles to salvage recyclable parts.

Just take this one fact: One single computer contains 100s of chemicals, including lead, mercury, cadmium, brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Not only can these chemicals cause cancer and reproductive problems, they also migrate and accumulate in soil, water and air after leaching out of improperly discarded or landfilled refuse.

The e-waste problem is two-fold. We need to recycle more and dispose less. Second, for the goods that are recycled, we need to make recycling a safe job for all laborers—whether in China or in our federal prisons. In 2006, California alone shipped an estimate 20 million pounds of e-waste overseas.

Manufacturers can help immensely on both of these points. Greenpeace, in its just-updated Guide to Greener Electronics, exposes a "widening gap between companies that make good on their promises to clean up, and those that don't." Their assessment evaluates companies' gains in phasing out toxic chemicals, increasing energy efficiency, and making it easier for consumers to recycle old products.

The guide ranks 18 companies, and dead last in Nintendo—maker of the popular Wii game console—which earned a "zero" score on all e-waste criteria.

Given the dire situation for prisoners and Chinese workers, we might as well start by trying to improve the worst-of-the-worst manufacturers.

If you have purchased Nintendo products before, you can sign this petition below to tell Nintendo to take ownership of the toxic legacy of the products it sells. If you have never purchase a Nintendo product, you can edit the letter to express your general

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