Monday, 27 October 2008

Green digital photography - little steps by Olympus and its packaging

I'm a big fan of photography, no expert, just an enthusiast who tries to get the most of a budget DSLR (Pentax K100D) and recycled Pentax K lenses.

I received a press release from Olympus in August and after reading it for the first time thought, more greenwash and so what?

You might see what I mean if you read it for yourself:

Olympus Consumer Packaging Goes Green

Good Things Come in Smaller
Packages, Plastic Reduced by 70-80 Percent

28, 2008 – Olympus Imaging America Inc. takes another major step in its “green”
initiative by eliminating 70 percent of the plastic from the packaging for its
audio products and 80 percent for its xD-Picture Card™ packaging, which will be
hitting retail shelves this fall. In a 12-month period, this will equal more
than 83 tons of plastic that will not need to be recycled or otherwise disposed
by consumers.

“Olympus takes its corporate responsibilities very
seriously, and is committed to helping to ensure that future generations inherit
a safe and thriving environment,” said Hirohide Matsushita, senior vice
president, Olympus Imaging America Inc. “Today’s announcement is part of a
larger, global company strategy to develop products, services and production
technologies with a careful and conscientious regard for environmental
protection. Olympus also recently announced its relationship with the National
Park Foundation, highlighting the company’s commitment to promoting healthy,
active lifestyles and building awareness about living in harmony with the

Starting this fall, consumer digital audio products will
be converted from plastic blister packs to paperboard. This move will reduce
plastic used in the packaging by approximately 70 percent. Additionally,
xD-Picture Card products will begin the transition from plastic to paperboard
packaging, reducing the amount of plastic used by approximately 80 percent. The
packaging is also printed with soy and vegetable inks, which contain no harsh
additives and are healthier for the environment.

These changes further
improve on previous packaging modifications made with the environment in mind.
In 2007, digital cameras were the first Olympus consumer products with packaging
made from paperboard. Audio product packaging was also targeted, moving its
WS-110 S, WS-210 S and WS-300 Series blister packaging from PVC (polyvinyl
chloride) to PET (polyethylene terephthalate). Unlike PVC, PET does not produce
dioxins or hydrogen chloride when incinerated. Recently, Olympus Imaging America
also reduced the use of PET plastic by 50 percent on the WS-110 S and WS-210 S
by using recycled paperboard.

To learn more about Olympus’ environmental
principles and Certified Eco-Friendly products, please visit:

It is easy to condemn companies for taking these little steps to reduce packaging waste, use of platics and switching to less harmful alternatives, and say hurry up and do more!

But maybe we should be more encouraging and maybe other companies will take notice and the move towards less toxic and wasteful manufacturing will gain pace?

Certainly Greenpeace's "Green Electronics Consumer Guide" has made a difference with companies being praised and shamed in equal measure.

It is a shame that more companies that manufacture digital cameras are not listed on this. It would be good to know whether my beloved Pentax is environmentally responsible, or indeed how the big names shape up.

Like a lot of consumers, I need some independent scrutiny on these companies rather than just press releases as I cannot help being a bit cynical of all the greenwash that is still about.

That said, if you are serious about corporate responsibility Olympus then well done and keep it up.

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