Ethical Electronics – Starting at the Source

Oct 24, 2012

I saw a story that ran on October 6th in The Observer (London) with the title “Is there an ethical laptop?” The author, Lucy Siegle, raises a number of questions about ethical consumption and production—looking at electronics in particular.

I know of some good news when it comes to electronics and ethical sourcing. Check out this short video clip from Motorola Solutions about the Solutions for Hope project. Turns out that Motorola Solutions, and others like AVX, F&X, Flextronics, HP, Intel, Motorola Mobility, Nokia, and Research In Motion didn’t stop at creating conflict free supply chains for tantalum (although they are doing so); they decided to support the direct sourcing of tantalum from conflict-free mines in the DRC—the region targeted as a potential source of minerals that support conflict.

The easier solution would have been for Motorola Solutions and other companies to simply turn their supply chains away from the region, sourcing their tantalum from other parts of the world. But they took this additional step. They invested effort and resources in working with civil society and others to identify a conflict free mine site and support a dedicated chain of custody—from mine to product. The video does offer hope. Check it out.

There is more work to do. The Public Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade (PPA) is serving as a public-private catalyst for capacity building to support additional in-region sourcing in the region and to help make sure that “conflict-free” does not mean “Congo-free.”

RESOLVE is helping these stakeholders—both corporate and civil society. We’re the secretariat for the PPA, and the Solutions for Hope story and its cousin Conflict-Free Tin Initiative can be found on our Solutions Network.

Steve D’Esposito

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