US computer giant Hewlett-Packard has been accused of backtracking on a commitment to phase out toxic chemicals from its products.
Earlier this year, HP postponed its 2007 commitment to phase out dangerous substances such as brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) from their computer products (excluding their server and printer lines) from 2009 to 2011.
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 dioxins, 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.
Greenpeace held protests on Tuesday in California outside the Hewlett-Packard's global headquarters, holding up banners saying 'HP=Hazardous Products'. Similar protests have also been held outside HP offices in China and The Netherlands.
'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.
'As the number one seller of PCs worldwide(5), HP has both the responsibility and the ability to provide environmental responsibility and leadership,' she said.
Greenpeace have produced a ranking guide of all the major electronics manufacturers. It says Ninetendo, Microsoft and Sony have yet to remove toxic substances such as BFRs and PVC from their gaming consoles and products such as the Playstation.