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Greenpeace: Dell, HP, and Lenovo not green enough

Greenpeace gives Dell, HP, and Lenovo a penalty green rating point for backtracking on their commitment to eliminate toxic substances from their products.

Greenpeace's green meter for March 2009 Greenpeace

Struggling with the economic downturn, the biggest names in PC makers seem to lag on staying clean.

In the March issue of the Guide to Greener Electronics, released Tuesday, Greenpeace decided to knock a point off of Dell's, HP's, and Lenovo's green scores for procrastinating their commitment to eliminate toxic substances from their products by the end of 2009.

The toxic substances in question include vinyl plastic (widely known as PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs). Lenovo has delayed its deadline by one year, while HP and Dell have yet to set a new timeline.

The NGO praised Apple and Acer for being the only ones firmly committed to phase out these substances. Apple has already met its commitment to have all of its products free of PVC and BFRs by the end of 2008. This is with one exception, which is a technical challenge: getting certified PVC-free power cords.

To Greenpeace, Apple is now the example for other PC makers to follow. "If Apple can find the solutions, there should be no reason why the other leading PC companies cannot," said Casey Harrell, Greenpeace International toxics campaigner. "All of them should have at least one toxic-free line of products on the market by the end of this year."

Apple is not exactly a PC maker, it's a Mac maker, which produces fewer products than the other three companies. However, this only means it's even more important that the other three stay committed.

To their credit, Dell and Lenovo have both been at work. Dell has a desktop, a notebook, and several models of monitors that have a reduced use of PVC and BFRs, and a few monitor models that are free from these substances. Lenovo also has two models available that are PVC- and BFR-free. HP is the one that trails farthest behind and has yet to bring out any models with even a reduced use of PVC and BFRs.

Other than PC (and Mac) makers, the Greenpeace guide also mentions other electronic vendors. The biggest change in the rankings is the big jump from the 15th to the 4th place made by Philips. The company has significantly improved its position on taking financial responsibility for the recycling of its own e-waste, although it still needs to implement a system to put this into effect.

Dell has also been providing free recycling for its products for a long time by teaming up with Staples. Maybe for this reason, it's still the greenest guy among the not-so-green list of companies.