CBSN

Greenpeace Takes On "Toxic" Game Consoles

Sales associates bring Xbox game consoles to the counter for early morning shoppers at a Wal-Mart store in Panorama City, California, 23 November 2007. The day after Thanksgiving, known as 'Black Friday,' marks the start of the 2007 holiday shopping season with crowds of shoppers waiting overnight in long lines in the hopes of getting bargains on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Gift cards are an increasingly popular way to give gifts, with some analysts suggest that the sales of gift cards will soon top 100 billion USD.
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
Microsoft and Nintendo are taking too long to phase out toxic chemicals from their game consoles, Greenpeace said Tuesday in its latest environmental ranking of leading electronics companies.

Nintendo Co. became the first company to score zero out of a possible 10 points in the Greenpeace ranking and provided no information to consumers on the substances it uses or future elimination of hazardous materials, the environmental organization said.

Microsoft Corp., judged on its Zune MP3 player and Xbox game console, lost points for its pledge to eliminate toxic chemicals only in 2011 and for having no voluntary takeback program.

Greenpeace said TV producers Royal Philips Electronics NV and Sharp Corp. have poor policies on taking back and recycling outdated products. Greenpeace added the four companies to its quarterly environmental rankings for the first time and put them at the bottom of the list of 18 companies.

The addition of television and game consoles was a recognition of their growing importance in consumer electronics, especially as more people cast off old TVs for digital receivers.

Shipments of game consoles grew nearly 15 percent last year to 62.7 million units world wide, Greenpeace said.

The most nature-friendly companies under the criteria were Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB and Samsung Corp., each scoring 7.7 points.

Dell and Toshiba also received limited praise.

Greenpeace punished Nokia Corp., the former leader, and Motorola Inc. for failing to live up to their pledges to take back used hardware in five of six countries where it conducted spot checks.

Since Greenpeace launched its scorecard in August 2006, some companies have complained of unfairness, but few have ignored the ranking.

"It's always good to have an independent perspective on what you're doing," said Andrew Goldman, communications manager for Philips consumer electronics.

Goldman said Philips, which scored 17th, had formulated green policies as long ago as the 1970s and announced a program in September to expand its portfolio of green products.

"But we are not in a position to be complacent. We need to do more, and it's becoming more of an issue."

After Apple Inc. was ranked last among 14 companies in April, Chief Executive Steve Jobs pledged to remove vinyl plastics, or PVCs, and brominated flame retardants from all its products by 2008. That helped lift its ranking to 11th place in Tuesday's list.

Greenpeace judges the companies according to their timelines for eliminating PVCs and fire-preventing chemicals that can be dangerous when released into the environment. It also assesses their ability to collect hardware that has reached the end of its life cycle.

It does not weigh a company's overall environmental portrait, although next year it will add energy efficiency to its criteria, said Greenpeace spokeswoman Iza Kruszweska.

"We didn't want to do everything at once," said Kruszweska. It started off with leading mobile phone and computer companies' handling of hazardous chemicals and waste.

While Nintendo's Wii console appears to be more energy efficient compared to the Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation, energy use is not yet covered in the ranking, according to Greenpeace.