Games companies ‘playing dirty’ says Greenpeace

21 May 2008

Pulling apart the Xbox 360, Wii and PS3 games console might seem like a strange course of action by Greenpeace but the environmental organisation was on a mission to see if their manufacturers are as green as they would like people to believe.

Hazardous chemicals and/or materials were found in all three games consoles causing the manufacturers, Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony, to fail Greenpeace’s green electronics test.

The report, entitled ‘Playing Dirty’, found that materials from both the Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3 contained high levels of phthalates, chemical compounds the EU has banned from being used in toys or childcare articles.

A certain kind of phthalate, DEHP, is banned from use in toys or related products that a child might be able to place in its mouth, specifically because of its link to interfering with sexual development in mammals.

“Whether game consoles are classified as toys or not, they can still contain hazardous chemicals and materials that could harm humans. The technology is available for the manufacturers to design out toxics and produce greener game consoles now,” said Dr Kevin Brigden, Greenpeace Science Unit.

However, the real offender, according to Greenpeace, is Nintendo, who promised to eliminate PVC in its products but never actually set a deadline for this phasing out. This is in contrast to Microsoft, which has commitment to eliminating the use of PVC and BFRs in all its hardware by 2010 and Sony said it will phase out PVC and BFRs to a certain extent by 2010.

The issue Greenpeace takes with the use of these hazardous materials is that it feels these games consoles could easily be made less toxic and more environmentally friendly.

“Our test clearly shows that a greener game console is possible; manufacturers just need to look ‘inside the box’ of the competition to see which of their own dirty components can be replaced with toxic free materials,” said Casey Harrell, Greenpeace International toxics campaigner.

By Marie Boran