Greenpeace at CES 2010

by Daniel Kessler

January 6, 2010

CES 2010. The lights, the sounds, the greenwash. Greenpeace analysts are once again here at the "World’s Largest" consumer electronics show to help consumers and the throngs of industry media to see through the haze of both positive green news and industry misinformation.

While some electronics makers have moved to eliminate toxic chemicals in their products — Apple, for instance, which has phased out both PVC vinyl plastic and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) — others lag behind. Samsung, Dell, Lenovo, and LGE stand out as laggards, but HP had made news today by bringing to the market the first desktop PC to be free of both PVC and BFRs.

So, if both Apple and HP have shown the way, why is the rest of the industry behind? That’s a question we hope those at CES will ask of the companies as they tour around looking at all the hot new gadgets.

What are PVC and BFRs?
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. Some BFRs are highly resistant to degradation in the environment and are able to bio-accumulate (build up in animals and humans).

With the growth of electronic waste, workers who deal with e-waste and the wider community are at significant health risks. Burning of e-waste to recover valuable resources, as routinely takes place in the backyards of China, India and much of the South, can form dioxins. Eliminating the substances will decrease exposure and increase the recyclability and reusability of electronic products.

Greenpeace at CES
Greenpeace will be all over CES for the next three days. At 10am Thursday in the Venetian Hotel, we’ll be having a press conference to debut version 14 of the Guide to Greener Electronics, a ranking of the top consumer electronics companies based on both their commitments and actions to phase out toxic chemicals and other important green criteria.

We’ll also be handing out awards at 3PM everyday for the “Best New Green Products” as well as the “Worst Greenwash.” On Saturday afternoon, we’ll give the big prizes for the best and worst for the whole week.

In 2010, we should see significant developments, with products free of PVC and BFRs in the PC and TV markets. Any company failing to achieve this goal is taking a big gamble with its green reputation.

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