HP tops most toxic notebook PCs

Feature story - September 18, 2006
Greenpeace activists staged a picket at the office of computer giant Hewlett-Packard in Bangkok in protest against the use of toxic substances in its PCs.

Greenpeace activists today picketed the office of computer giant Hewlett-Packard in Bangkok in protest against the use of toxic substances in its PCs.

A new Greenpeace report 'Toxic Chemicals in Computers Exposed' showed that tests conducted on an HP notebook computer revealed some of the highest levels of toxic chemicals among the five laptop brands tested, in particular the highest levels by far of PBDEs (a class of brominated flame retardants or BFRs). Lead was also found in the soldering of the HP PC.

    Many of the chemicals found in the laptops tested by Greenpeace, including lead and BFRs, are hazardous to health and persist in the environment for long periods of time.  PVC was also found and presents waste management problems by acting as a source of organic-bound chlorine to the waste stream.

                             

    "During the sampling process it was remarkable to note that, whether Mac or PC, once you by-pass the sleek-cool design of these computers, hazardous substances are a component common to all", said Dr. Kevin Brigden from the Greenpeace Research Laboratories who oversaw the sampling analyses and produced the report.

    HP's statement on its website that decaBDE had been removed many years ago from its products has proved to be a lie, as Greenpeace investigations found that this chemical is still present. HP's lie has resulted in it being downgraded in the recently released 'Guide to Greener Electronics', a Greenpeace guide that ranks PC and mobile companies on their chemical and waste policies and practices.  HP was the third best company but has slipped to sixth position, they now have a score of 4.7 out of ten, down from its previous ranking of 5.7 when the guide was released last month.

                           

"It is alarming to see these top level companies moving down the ranking rather than moving forward in their commitments to eliminate toxic substances," said Kittikhun Kittiaram of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. "HP has failed the test and is way behind the times in terms of environmental care."

    With no global take back systems established by electronic companies, the risks are high that all these contaminated products will end up polluting the yards of developing countries of Asia where many old computers are being dumped.

                             

    Greenpeace wants the electronics industry to design products that are greener and last longer and which are easy to recycle. Greenpeace has been calling the electronics industry to eliminate all hazardous chemicals, including all type of BFRs and PVC plastics. No company has yet put on the market a product that is clean of all of these chemicals.

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