Red Over Greenpeace

Another day, another whine from Greenpeace.

This time, the would-be environmental group complains that several large PC makers are “backtracking” on promises to eliminate certain chemicals from their computers.

In a press release issued today, Greenpeace cites Hewlett Packard, Dell and Lenovo – for “failing to improve their low scores.”

Dell and Lenovo are called out for delaying their migraton to non-PVC and BFR materials, while HP is cited for “[postponing] its 2007 commitment to phase out PVC and BFRs from its computer products from 2009 to 2011. [I]t is not even putting PVC and BFR-reduced products on the market.”

“Greenpeace takes voluntary commitments very seriously and holds companies accountable for their promises. There are no excuses for backtracking, and no reason for these companies not to have PCs free of PVC and BFRs now,” said Greenpeace International Toxics Campaigner Tom Dowdall in the statement.

Which is great, except it’s also wrong.

Keep in mind those scores are set and tabulated by Greenpeace. And note that those targets are constantly moving. Greenpeace exists only to wag its finger at large corporations. It needs enemies in order to survive, even if that means conjuring up ghosts and bogeymen.

Meanwhile, Greenpeace also ignores that the science does not yet support the elimination of BFRs, and in fact, may suggest otherwise. As Dr. Arlene Blum, executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute and a member of Chemists Without Borders noted in her blog in May, “it is difficult to make a causal connection between chemical exposure and health impacts.”

And it ignores that all the major PC vendors now have significant takeback programs in place, providing some level of protection against these chemicals entering the waste stream.

While it pats Apple on the back, claiming its new PC lines “virtually free of PVC and completely BFR-free,” Greenpeace misses that Apple is perhaps the worst of the bunch when it comes to auditing and ensuring its vendors — which include Foxconn — follow acceptable labor practices.

BFRs may be bad, but what’s the alternative? Remind me: Does fire cause pollution?