Greenpeace launched a protest to underline the issue of electronic waste at the giant Computex trade show in Taipei yesterday.

Nine campaigners wearing protective suits and masks stood in front of an entrance to the Taipei World Trade Centre and displayed posters depicting children holding dumped electronic waste. Many of the photos were taken in Guiyu, China. The town is a major recycling centre for the world's electronic goods but much of the work is done by hand and toxic substances are not disposed of properly, according to Greenpeace.

Safe disposal

"We wanted to use Computex Taipei as an opportunity to let the Taiwanese industry know that they are using toxic substances inside their products and we want all the industry, not only the Taiwanese industry, to stop using toxins inside their products," said Jamie Choi, a Beijing-based toxins campaigner with the organisation. "We are also here to remind Acer, the Taiwanese computer giant, to keep its promise of phasing out toxins inside their products."

The toxic substances make it difficult to dispose of used electronic products safely. The products often end up in scrapyards or buried in landfills, where the toxic substances are released and seep into ground water, polluting the surrounding area.

Choi and other Greenpeace representatives are due to meet with Acer on Thursday to assess the progress of the company's plan to phase out toxic substances.

Greenpeace says a number of companies, including HP, Nokia, Samsung, Sony and Sony Ericsson have already set schedules to phase out the use of toxic substances in their products. The group is putting pressure on other major electronics companies, including Apple, Dell, Fujitsu Siemens, Lenovo, Motorola, Panasonic and Toshiba, to do the same.