Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Greenpeace Boycotts HP Paints 'Hazardous Products' On Roof

Greenpeace: Hewlett-Packard = Hazardous Products

Action at global headquarters highlights company’s broken promises on hazardous chemical elimination

A Greenpeace action today exposed electronics giant Hewlett-Packard for backtracking on its public commitment to eliminate key toxic chemicals in its products by the end of this year. In Palo Alto, Greenpeace activists climbed to the top of HP’s global headquarters and painted the message “Hazardous Products” in big, bold letters on the roof. The message, applied using non toxic children’s finger-paint, covered over 11,500 square ft., or the size of two and half basketball courts.

This protest follows similar demonstrations against HP at its offices in China and Holland. HP employees were also greeted today by an automated phone calls from actor William Shatner, calling upon the company to phase out the toxic chemicals.

“HP continues to put hazardous products on the market despite promises made years ago to phase out these toxic compounds,” said Greenpeace International Toxics Campaigner Casey Harrell. “Apple has led the sector in phasing out of these toxic chemicals. HP should be following Apple’s lead, instead of breaking its commitment and delaying action.”

Earlier this year, HP postponed its 2007 commitment to phase out of dangerous substances such as brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics from its computing products. Its delay shifts compliance up to two years from 2009 to 2011.

Apple’s new computer lines, virtually free of PVC and completely BFR free demonstrate the technical feasibility and supply chain readiness of producing alternatives to these hazardous substances. Competitors Dell, Lenovo and Acer have stayed ahead of HP by putting models on the market that are free of or at least significantly reduced in the use of PVC and BFRs. HP currently stands in 14th place in the quarterly Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics having been penalized in the previous ranking for its backtracking on PVC/BFR phase out.

“Greenpeace will not stand idly by while companies that commit to environmentally responsible action backtrack on commitments,” Harrell said. “As the number one seller of PCs worldwide, HP has both the responsibility and the ability to make sure the company no longer deserves the moniker ‘Hazardous Products’.”

PVC and BFRs are highly toxic, and can release dioxin, a known carcinogen, when burned. With the growing tsunami of electronic waste being shipped to developing countries for open burning, workers who deal with e-waste are at the most significant risk for health impacts. Eliminating these substances will decrease exposure to workers and consumers and will increase the recyclability and reusability of electronic products.

More details from Greenpeace - "HP Breaking Green Promises – No More Excuses!". Images from the action, as well as b-roll footage of e-waste disposal is available at:

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