According to a number of reports, global PC manufacturers have still not figured out how to make a computer without using PVC (polyvinyl chloride) insulation and the far more toxic brominated flame retardants (BFRs), although there are some electronics manufacturers out there producing IT peripherals without having to use those chemicals at all, according to a new Greenpeace study.
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Nokia has managed to get into the good books with Greenpeace but only because it is improving its recycling systems and taking back unwanted phones for recycling.
Other companies singled out by the environmental group for worthy praise in included the likes of Apple, Sony Ericsson, Dell, HP and Samsung.
Greenpeace says the materials used in electronics many of these chemicals or their derivatives are known carcinogens.
Some of these petrochemical derivatives can also pollute groundwater when they leak out of landfills, while others are released into the atmosphere when they are incinerated or during the recycling process. Some of these substances have a breakdown time that is measured in dozens or even hundreds of years.
However Greenpeace noted that so far, no company has managed to come up with a PC that is completely free of organo-metallic flame-retardants and PVC insulation, although some manufacturers are reducing or at least promising to cut back on the quantities of these chemicals used in their products.
One such company is Fujitsu-Siemens, which has promised to eliminate PVC and BFRs from all of its products by late 2010. However noted Greenpeace, most other IT companies have not set any timetables.
Apple came in for special mention after it said its new iPod line will contain no PVC, BFRs or mercury, and that it will eliminate these materials from all of its products by the end of the year, according to a report in Computerworld, although at the same time Greenpeace said it was unhappy with the iPod sealed casing as this makes battery replacement expensive, pushing customers to buy a new model rather than just replacing the worn-out battery.
On the bottom end of the rankings, Nintendo was given the wooden spoon by Greenpeace due to its management of chemicals, its plans to phase out substances other than PVC and BFRs and also over its disclosure of its own carbon footprint.