The games consoles industry grew almost 15 per cent in 2006, shipped 62.7 million units and is a US$ 30 billion a year industry. Despite its products including components common to PCs, in which levels of hazardous chemicals are being reduced, game console manufacturers have so far failed to achieve any progress in reducing the toxic burden of their products.
"Game consoles manufacturers are lagging way behind the makers of mobile phones and PCs who have been reducing the toxic load of their products over the past year," said Zeina Al Hajj, Greenpeace International toxics campaigner. "Game consoles contain many of the same components as PCs so manufacturers can do a lot more," she continued.
In its first foray into the world of 'machinima', Greenpeace is today launching its 'Clash of the Consoles: Battle for the Future' video, aimed at gamers. A 90 second video has the iconic games console characters, Microsoft's 'Master Chief', Nintendo's 'Mario' and Sony's 'Kratos' compete for the prize of a 'greener' games console. It ends with the message, "Jump in… Tell your game console company Wii would like to live and play in a toxic free world" - combining slogans of the three manufacturers.
Gamers can compare how each console measures up on toxics, recycling and energy efficiency and show support for their favourite console to go green.
The initiative is part of Greenpeace's campaign to persuade the entire electronics sector to go beyond current legislation and eliminate hazardous chemicals across the board.
Heading Greenpeace's list are brominated fire retardants and PVC, the use of which can lead to hazardous chemicals building up in the environment and in human and animal tissue. Workers in production facilities as well as recyclers in scrap yards may be most at risk. This includes Chinese and Indian children involved in dismantling by hand discarded electronic goods from richer nations.
"Surely gamers don't want people their own age in other countries to suffer for their pleasure," said Al Hajj. "Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are currently undermining their own reputations among consumers," she added.
Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft dominate the game consoles market with respective sales shares of 42, 40 and 18 per cent.
Greenpeace is confident that the manufacturers can cut down on use of hazardous chemicals without consumers feeling the pinch. Sony, for instance, boasts of having saved over Euro 400,000 by carefully managing and optimising its takeback programmes, according to a study in the Journal of Industrial Ecology.
Zeina Al Hajj, Greenpeace International toxics campaigner. Tel: +31 6 5312 8904
Omer Elnaiem, Greenpeace International communications. Tel: +31 6 1509 3589