Greenpeace has issued a report entitled “Playing dirty” in which it claims Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo are not making their consoles green enough.
The use of hazardous chemicals or materials in electronics is a widespread and common occurrence. Some of these materials are necessary for the product to work however some can be omitted or substituted for other less harmful materials. Greenpeace recently carried out similar studies into the use of hazardous materials in laptops and mobile phones.
The report states the environmental organization purchased and dismantled a Nintendo Wii, a 40 GB Sony PS3 and an Xbox 360 Elite, in November of 2007. They then analysed several of the internal and external components for harmful or hazardous chemicals, focusing on regulated substances that fall under the European Union’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances. These substances include lead, cadmium, mercury and hexovalant chromium (chromium 6) and certain brominated flame retardants (BFRs). Additional tests were carried out for materials such as PVC the toxic phthalate plasticizers that it commonly contains and beryllium-containing alloys.
The study found that while all of the consoles were within the restrictions within the RoHS, Pthalates (believed to interfere in sexual development in male mammals) were found in both the Xbox 360 and PS3 and Bromine was found in over half of the analysed components (23 out of 42). All three consoles contained PVC-based materials and electrical contact materials from both the PS3 and the 360 contained Berylium however neither of these materials fall under the RoHS.
All three companies have made commitments to eliminate the use of PVC and BFRs in their hardware with Microsoft promising to do so by 2010. Sony have also set the date at 2010 although this is only for its mobile products and doesn’t include any console other than the PSP. Nintendo has yet to announce a timeline for its elimination of PVC ad BFRs.
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Click here for the full report on Greenpeace.com