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Clash of the Consoles: Battle for a green future

Feature story - 11 December, 2007
Three of the greatest heroes of the video game world have come together this December to battle for a future free of toxic chemicals. The iconic figures of Nintendo's Mario, Microsoft's Master Chief and Sony's Kratos are the lead characters in our new website, 'Clash of the Consoles', where gamers can urge game console makers to go green.

Kratos, Master Chief and Mario face up to the problem of e-waste.

In gamespace, everybody wants to save the world. But back here on planet Earth, games consoles contain deadly agents of real destruction: toxic chemicals that shouldn't be there and may add to the mountain of e-waste when consoles are thrown away. On 'Clash of the Consoles' you can check out how your favourite game heroes stand up against their rivals on toxics, recycling and energy, and how you can help battle the boss monsters to green their game.

We've created this site because our investigations have revealed that Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony do not have games consoles free of the worst toxic chemicals. Also, Microsoft and Nintendo do not take responsibility for their consoles when they become obsolete.

Game consoles have components common to PCs, in which levels of hazardous chemicals are being reduced. But console manufacturers have so far failed to achieve any progress in cutting back on the same substances in their products.

"They 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.

This site is just a part of our campaign for greener electronics. Every quarter we publish a guide to how the major makers of PCs, mobile phones, TVs and game consoles measure up against criteria on toxic chemicals and recycling. In the past, we've protested against HP's use of toxic chemicals, helped push Apple towards a greener future and penalised companies like Sony, LG, Motorola and Nokia when their actions have not lived up to their green words.

Extra cost?

PC makers are already removing toxic chemicals in some applications without increasing prices to consumers. Sony, for instance, is boasting of having saved money by carefully managing and optimising its takeback programmes. These measures should not mean consoles would become any more expensive.