Samsung, Dell, Lenovo, LG Miss Key Toxic Chemicals Goal

Four of the biggest names in the electronics industry have missed an important goal for phasing out toxic chemicals from their products, environmental group Greenpeace said Thursday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Samsung, Dell, Lenovo and LG Electronics had all pledged to rid their products of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) by the end of 2009 but have delayed this until 2011 or beyond, said Greenpeace.

The toxic chemicals have the potential to damage the environment and harm human health and their elimination has been a major goal of Greenpeace's quarterly "Guide to Greener Electronics." The latest edition of the guide was published on Thursday and ranked Nokia top and Samsung in second place.

"Apple met their deadline full-on and early, so has Nokia [and] Sony Ericsson," said Casey Harrell, a Greenpeace toxics campaigner, during a news conference. "HP is making considerably more progress towards their goal of PVC and BFR phase-out."

Hewlett-Packard unveiled on Wednesday at CES the first Windows-based desktop PC to be completely free of PVC and BFRs. The HP Compaq 8000f Elite Ultra Slim is 30 percent more energy efficient than previous models and leads a range of machines engineered to have a lower impact on the environment.

With the 14th edition, Greenpeace is revising the scoring system used to rank companies. For the first time the group is taking in account how active companies are in advocating green electronics. Specifically they are examining whether manufacturers are actively supporting a revision to Europe's RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive) regulations to ban PVC, BFRs and chlorinated flame retardants (CFRs).

"We found that companies that take voluntary action, in this case Apple, Sony Ericsson and Nokia, to phase-out their toxic chemical use [see] impacts in the rest of their business," said Harrell. "They now want this equipment back. They have stronger take-back policies because they can actually do a whole lot more with this equipment than if it was loaded with toxic chemicals."

The new criteria caught guide-leader Nokia, which lost a point on the 10-point scale for failing to pro-actively lobby for the change. Nokia secured the top spot with a ranking of 7.3 and was followed by Samsung with 6.9. Toshiba and Philips were tied in third place with 5.3 points.

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