Hewlett-Packard = Hazardous Products

Action in the US highlights company’s broken promises on phasing out hazardous chemicals

Press release - 28 July, 2009
A Greenpeace action in the US today exposed Hewlett-Packard’s (HP) continuing contribution to the toxic electronic waste crisis. The peaceful protest is in response to HP backtracking on its commitments to phase out toxic chemicals from its products by the end of this year (1).

In California, USA, employees at the computer giant's global headquarters were greeted with the message 'HP = Hazardous Products', painted on the roof in large yellow letters and automated phone calls from actor William Shatner, calling upon the company to phase out the toxic chemicals. This protest follows similar demonstrations against HP at its offices in China and Holland highlighting the continued presence  of toxic chemicals in HP products.

Earlier this year, HP postponed its 2007 commitment to phase out dangerous substances such as brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic (2) from their computer products (excluding their server and printer lines) from 2009 to 2011.  

"It's shameful that HP is continuing to put hazardous products on the market, despite the promises it had made," said Casey Harrell, Greenpeace International toxics campaigner. "Instead of going back on its commitments, HP should be following the lead of companies like Apple, which has led the sector in phasing out these toxic chemicals."

Apple's new computer lines, virtually free of PVC and completely BFR-free(4), demonstrate the technical feasibility and supply-chain readiness of producing alternatives to these hazardous substances. HP's competitors, Dell, Lenovo and Acer have also stayed ahead of HP, putting models on the market that are free of, or at least significantly reduced in theiruse of, PVC and BFRs. HP now stands 14th on the quarterly Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics(3), having been penalised in the previous edition for backtracking on its PVC/BFR phase out.

"Greenpeace will continue to expose those companies who fail to implement their environmentally responsible commitments," said Harrell.  "As the number one seller of PCs worldwide(5), HP has both the responsibility and the ability to provide environmental responsibility and leadership."

Other contacts: Prajna Khanna, Greenpeace International, Communications Project Manager Toxics, (in the Netherlands), + 31 (0) 6290 34990 Casey Harrell, Greenpeace International Toxics Campaigner, (in San Francisco), +1 415 307 3382

VVPR info: John Novis, Pictures Desk, Greenpeace International, +44 7801 615889, email: Lucy Campbell - Jackson, Video Desk, Greenpeace International, Currently in India, +91 9971 341949, email:

Notes: 1. http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/globalcitizenship/environment/productdesign/materialuse.html "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”.

2. 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. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/toxics/electronics/what-s-in-electronic-devices/bfr-pvc-toxic

3. www.greenpeace.org/rankingguide

4. http://www.apple.com/environment/materials/

5. http://community.winsupersite.com/blogs/paul/archive/2009/04/16/day-of-reckoning-q1-2009-pc-market-share-figures-arrive.aspx