HP Dinged By Greenpeace Over Enviro-Friendly PCs

Greenpeace defaced the roof of HP's headquarters, protesting use of toxic materials; HP says all its new commercial PCs will be free of brominated flame retardants and PVCs by fall 2010.

Antone Gonsalves, Contributor

July 29, 2009

2 Min Read

Greenpeace protesters climbed to the roof of HP's headquarters on Tuesday and fingerprinted the words "hazardous products" in graffiti which covered more than 11,500 square feet. The protest followed demonstrations against HP at its offices in China and Holland.

For its part, HP said that it will introduce its first laptops free of BFRs and PVC in September, and that all its new commercial PCs will free of the toxic materials by fall 2010. (BFRs are Brominated flame retardants; PVC is Polyvinyl chloride.)

"The unconstructive antics at HP's headquarters today did nothing to advance the goals that all who care about the environment share," HP added, in a statement e-mailed to InformationWeek.

Greenpeace is unhappy about continued use of PVC and BFRs. "Instead of making progress on phasing out toxic chemicals from their products, HP continues making excuses," Greenpeace said in a statement. "They are backtracking on their commitment to eliminate PVC plastic and brominated flame retardants from their products by the end of 2009."

According to Greenpeace, HP had pushed back the target date until 2011. (HP's latest e-mail, noted above, says the date is now fall 2010.) The company made the original commitment in 2007, excluding HP's server and printer lines.

In arguing that HP could stop using the toxic chemicals sooner, Greenpeace pointed to Apple, which has introduced computer lines free of PVC plastic and BFRs. HP is currently second to last on the quarterly Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics, rated lower than rivals Dell, Lenovo and Acer.

As governments increase environmental protections, computer makers have used their "green" records as a marketing tool and proof that they are doing their part. Therefore, criticism from well-known environmental groups like Greenpeace is perceived as potentially damaging to a company's image.

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