Dell Commits to “Greener” Computers

Computer giant Dell has announced that it will remove key toxic chemicals from its desktop computers, laptops and other products. The company announced on its website a 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. Greenpeace, which is waging a campaign to pressure electronics manufacturers into making their products more environmentally friendly, urged other companies to tackle the mounting crisis of toxic e-waste, citing polling results showing public support for higher quality environmentally-friendly electronics and a desire to pay more for them.

"Dell's decision to remove these harmful chemicals is a step in the right direction for the electronics industry and the direction that consumers want. Consumers want greener electronics, and they are even willing to pay more for them," said Rick Hind, legislative director of the Greenpeace Toxics Campaign. "The computer industry needs to live up to its responsibilities, and ensure that when products reach their end of life, they do not become hazardous waste that poisons people and the environment," he continued.

Dell's announcement follows a campaign by Greenpeace calling on the electronic industry to eliminate the most hazardous toxic chemicals from its products and to move towards clean methods of 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 refused to make similar commitments. Motorola, the only one of the top five mobile phone manufacturers has failed to commit to removing toxic components, and has recently been downgraded in Greenpeace's industry ranking.

More than thirty-five percent of Dell's revenue comes from outside of the United States and that percentage is growing. According to a survey conducted in nine countries by Ipsos-MORI for Greenpeace, people would pay more for an environmentally friendly computer. The breakdown of these countries and the amount which they are willing to pay range from 54% in Germany (up to $59), 62% in the Philippines (up to $86), 65% in Poland (up to $70), 68% in Britain (up to $118), 78% in Mexico (up to $229), 81% in China (up to $199) and 84% in Thailand (up to $138). In all of these countries (except Philippines), a majority also believes that companies should be held responsible for dealing with hazardous waste from their products rather than expecting users, retailers or governments to pay.

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