Dell commit to "greener" PCs but survey shows computer users demand even more

"Companies should be held responsible for dealing with hazardous waste from discarded PCs", say consumers

Press release - 2006-06-27
Computer giant Dell's announcement that it will remove key toxic chemicals from its PCs laptops and other products is welcomed by Greenpeace, which is waging a campaign to pressure electronics manufacturers into making their products more environmentally friendly, and to tackle the mounting crisis of toxic e-waste.

Part of a Dell computer monitor in a Chinese e-waste scrap yard.

The announcement was made as a survey conducted by Ipsos-MORI for Greenpeace International reveals that most people across nine countries (2) say they would pay extra for a more environmentally friendly PC (Personal Computer) and that companies should be held responsible for dealing with hazardous waste from PCs, rather than expecting users, retail shops or their government to pay.

The nine country survey, carried out earlier this year, found that from half to three-quarters of computer users say that they would be willing to pay extra for an environmentally friendly computer. This ranges from 54% in Germany, 62% in the Philippines, 65% in Poland, 68% in Britain, 78% in Mexico, 81% in China, and 84% in Thailand.

The amount computer users say they would be willing to pay extra runs from a low of $59 (the equivalent of €47) in Germany, $70 (€56) in Poland and $86 (€69) in the Philippines to $118 (€93) in Britain, $138 (€110) in Thailand, $199 (€158) in China and a whopping $229 (€181) in Mexico.

The survey also found that in nearly every country, saving only the Philippines (where more wanted the consumer to pay), a majority of people felt that the manufacturers of PCs should be mainly responsible for dealing with any hazardous waste that old PCs produce. In Mexico (66%) and Thailand (64%), nearly two out of three people said that responsibility for dealing with hazardous waste rested with the manufacturer. Majorities took that view in Germany (57%) and China (53%). Half of Brazilians living in urban areas in Brazil (50%) felt manufacturers should be mainly responsible for the cost of cleaning up.

More than four people in ten (43%), agreed that PCs and other electronic products contain hazardous materials, with the lowest level of agreement in Poland (13%) and the highest Brazil (61%).

Dell made the announcement on its website, where the company posted its corporate pledge committing to phase out the use of two key groups of chemicals known to be hazardous to the environment: all types of brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and the plastic polyvinyl chlorine (PVC), by 2009. (3)

"Dell's decision to remove these harmful chemicals reflects a move within the electronics industry in the right direction to become cleaner and it is clearly the direction that consumers want. Consumers not only want greener PCs they are willing to pay extra for them," said Zeina al-Hajj from Greenpeace International. "Consumers also want the computer industry to live up to its responsibilities, and ensure that when products reach the end of their life, they do not become hazardous waste that contaminates the environment", she continued.

Dell's commitment follows a campaign by Greenpeace calling on the electronic industry to eliminate the most hazardous toxic chemicals from its products and to move to 'clean production'. Hewlett Packard, LGE, Nokia, Samsung, Sony and Sony Ericsson have already made commitments to eliminate the use of some hazardous chemicals in the near future. However, a number of other companies including Acer, Apple, Fujitsu-Siemens, IBM, Lenovo, Panasonic, Siemens and Toshiba have so far failed to commit.

Also being named and shamed by Greenpeace is Motorola, the only one of the top five mobile manufacturers which has failed to commit to removing toxic components, and has recently been downgraded in Greenpeace's industry ranking, after backtracking on earlier commitments. (4)

VVPR info:

For photos please contact Greenpeace International Photo Desk, +31(0) 6 53819255

Notes:

1. Link to the Dell Website.
http://www.dell.com/content/topics/global.aspx/corp/environment/en/prod_design?c=us&l=en&s=corp&~section=016


2. Greenpeace International commissioned Ipsos MORI who interviewed 9,042 adults across nine countries: India [1,018], China [1,017], Thailand [1,005], Philippines [1,000], Great Britain [1,013], Germany [988], Poland [1,000], Mexico [1,001], Brazil [1,000]. Fieldwork was conducted between 13th of January - 27th of February 2006. The interviews conducted in China, India, Thailand, the Philippines and Mexico were in urban areas only. Summary available: www.ipsos-mori.com

3. The Electronics industry uses a wide range of hazardous chemicals in its products and production lines. In July 2006, a European Directive (RoHS - Restriction of Hazardous Substances) will come into force requiring the industry to eliminate four types of heavy metals (Lead, Cadmium, Chromium and Mercury) as well as two types of Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs). Greenpeace wants the electronics industry to go beyond the EU Directive and eliminate all type of BFRs and PVC.

4. Greenpeace link to the story on Motorola:
http://www.greenpeace.org/eastasia/news/stories/toxics/2006/motorola-hangs-up-on-toxic-cle/

Editors Notes:

Across seven countries' computers users , the outstanding reason for replacing a computer were:
- The computer is not working any longer - 27%
- The machine is out of date - 38% on average, 48% in Great Britain, 41% in Germany and China
- Software requirements - 20%
- Improved functions - 18%

Overall, the over-riding considerations when buying a new PC are:
- Performance - 76%
- Cost - 54%
- Environmental considerations 13% (average) but with Chinese consumers this rises to 33%
- Brand name - 18%

VVPR info:

For photos please contact Greenpeace International Photo Desk, +31(0) 6 53819255

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