Greener Electronics - Companies backtrack on toxics phase-out

Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Lenovo still penalised for breaking promises on removing hazardous chemicals from their products

Press release - 1 July, 2009
The latest edition of Greenpeace's 'Guide to Greener Electronics' ranking, released today, reveals that the world's biggest PC makers - Hewlett Packard (HP), Dell and Lenovo - have failed to improve their low scores. All three maintain a penalty point for backtracking on their commitments to eliminate polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) from their products by the end of 2009.

HP has already received a public reminder of the need to reprioritise toxic chemical phase out, when Greenpeace activists returned 'toxic laptops' to the company's Chinese headquarters last week. Today, staff at HP's Dutch headquarters were greeted on arrival by Greenpeace activists confronting them with pictures of the pollution HP's toxic products cause in Asia and Africa. Greenpeace will continue to escalate pressure on HP and other companies who fail to live up to their voluntary commitments.(1)

"Greenpeace takes voluntary commitments very seriously and holds companies accountable for their promises. There are no excuses for backtracking, and no reason for these companies not to have PCs free of PVC and BFRs now," said Greenpeace International Toxics Campaigner, Tom Dowdall.

In 14th place HP continues to lag behind other PC brands in the ranking, having postponed its 2007 commitment to phase out PVC and BFRs from its computer products (excluding its server and printer lines) from 2009 to 2011. (2) Unlike Dell and Lenovo, however, it is not even putting PVC- and BFR-reduced products on the market. Nokia remains top with 7.4/10, and Samsung (2nd)) and Sony Ericsson (3rd)) catching up with 7.1 and 6.5 points respectively.

LGE, Toshiba and Motorola move up the ranking to take 4th, 5th and 6th place. Sony drops down from 5th to 12th position, as it has not kept pace with progress made by other companies, especially on e-waste recycling performance. At the bottom Lenovo also drops down due to further weakening of its commitment on toxic chemicals phase-out.

Apple's new computer lines, virtually free of PVC and completely BFR-free, demonstrate the technical feasibility and supply-chain readiness of producing alternatives to these hazardous substances. (3) Dell, Lenovo and Acer have also stayed ahead of HP, putting models on the market that are free, or at least significantly reduced in their use, of PVC and BFRs. Dell recently engaged in a public spat with Apple over Apple's claims to have the greenest family of notebooks.

"It's ridiculous that some companies, such as Dell, are busy challenging Apple's advertising claims when Apple is clearly leading its competitors on toxics phase out. All PC companies should be concentrating on matching or beating Apple's lead on this important issue," said Dowdall.

Greenpeace is calling on companies to eliminate BFRs and PVC from their product range. These substances are harmful throughout the entire lifecycle of a product; phase-out reduces pollution during the production and disposal of electronics and makes products capable of being recycled in a responsible manner.

Other contacts: Prajna Khanna, Greenpeace International, Communications Project Manager Toxics Tel: +31 (0) 20 718 2621, Mobile: + 31 (0) 6212 96896, email:

Tom Dowdall, Greenpeace International Toxics CampaignerTel: +31 (0) 20 718 2000, Mobile: +31 (0) 6212 96892, email:

Kim Schoppink, Greenpeace Netherlands Toxics CampaignerTel: +31 (0) 20 524 9409, Mobile: +31 (0) 6212 96911, email:

Notes: 1. What's in electronic devices? PVC contaminates humans and the environment throughout its lifecycle; during its production, use, and disposal it is the single most environmentally damaging of all plastics, and can form dioxin, a known carcinogen, when burned. BFRs are highly resistant to degradation in the environment and are able to bio-accumulate (build up in animals and humans) and can be released from products during use, leading to their presence in household dust and resulting in increased human exposure. With the growth of electronic waste seen in the past decades, workers who deal with e-waste are at significant health risks. Eliminating the substances will decrease exposure and increase the recyclability and reusability of electronic products.

2. "As technologically feasible alternatives become readily available that will not compromise product performance or quality and will not adversely impact health or the environment, we will complete the phase out of BFR and PVC in newly introduced personal computing products in 2011".