Greenpeace International

Playing Dirty: Analysis of hazardous chemicals and materials in games consoles

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Courtesy of Courtesy of Greenpeace International

The use of hazardous chemicals and materials in electronic products is widespread. Despite some recent improvements – a result of a combination of legal restrictions in some parts of the world, and voluntary action by companies – many devices still contain a variety of hazardous substances. These include chemicals which fall outside current legislative controls, as highlighted in recent studies on certain mobile phone and laptops . Some manufacturers, recognising the health and environmental concerns arising from the presence of such substances throughout product lifecycles, are already starting to phase out certain hazardous substances and materials from their electronic products, including the use of all brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and the chlorinated plastic polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Other companies have made commitments to eliminate or reduce their uses in the near future. Nevertheless, the presence of these and other hazardous substances is likely to be widespread in many electronic goods currently on the market.

Games consoles represent one of the fastest growing markets in consumer electronics. Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo are the major manufacturers in this sector. Of these, Microsoft has made a commitment to eliminate the use of PVC and BFRs in its hardware by 2010 . Sony committed to phase out PVC and certain uses of BFRs by 2010, though only for its mobile products and not including game consoles other than the PlayStation Portable (PSP). Nintendo very recently committed to eliminate PVC in its products, but failed to give a timeline for doing so.

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