Greenpeace fingerpaints message to HP

July 28, 2009 7:36:21 PM PDT
Greenpeace pulled off another highly unusual protest, this time at computer giant Hewlett Packard's headquarters in Palo Alto. Demonstrators accuse hp of breaking a promise to eliminate a list of toxic chemicals from its products by the end of the year.

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Greenpeace activists gave the HP in Hewlett Packard new meaning Tuesday. They plastered the message "hazardous products" on the computer maker's rooftop. Demonstrators used nontoxic paint to accuse hp of failing to live up to its environmental promises.

"This protest was simply to say to HP, 'no more excuses, phase out these hazardous chemicals from your products now, do what Apple has done and get them out,'" Greenpeace spokesperson Casey Harrell said.

Greenpeace also said it sent a robocall to every HP employee from actor William Shatner.

HP did not return repeated requests for comment Tuesday, but the company website says it will complete the phase out of BFRs (a flame retardant added to plastics and PVC plastic) in its personal computing products in 2011. There is no mention of a previous deadline.

Tim Bajarin, a high tech analyst and consultant, says HP may not be moving fast enough for Greenpeace, but it is on board.

"There is no question, in the PC industry we have made a fairly strong commitment to move everything to a green environment," Bajarin said.

As for the security breach, industry analysts say tech companies do have tighter security in place since September 11, but it is virtually impossible to protect against every possible intrusion.

Greenpeace says it executed its well planned operation early this morning in just 10 minutes.

HP did call Palo Alto police, but there were no arrests and no trespassing or vandalism charges filed.

"In California, a misdemeanor like that, it's really up to the folks at HP whether or not they wanted them arrested, in this particular situation they simply wanted them removed from the property," Palo Alto Police Department spokesperson, Agent Max Nielepko said.

The computer giant may hope the incident is quickly forgotten, Greenpeace however promises otherwise.

UPDATE: HP issued the following statement Tuesday evening:

For decades HP has been a leader in environmental responsibility and has adopted practices in product development, operations and supply chain that are transparent and help to reduce its environmental impact. HP has a comprehensive approach to environmental sustainability, with three main components: minimizing our impact; helping our customers to improve their environmental performance; and driving towards a sustainable, low-carbon economy.

This commitment includes reducing the use of BFR/PVC in our products until these materials are eliminated entirely. HP has introduced several new computing products this year that use less BFR/PVC than previous generations. This September HP will release a BFR/PVC free notebook. By fall 2010 all new commercial PC products released will be BFR/PVC free. By the end of 2011 all new PC products released will be free of BFR/PVCs.

The unconstructive antics at HP's headquarters today did nothing to advance the goals that all who care about the environment share. HP will continue its efforts to develop new products and programs around the globe that help the company, its business partners and customers conserve energy, reduce materials use and reduce waste through responsible reuse and recycling. HP supports industry efforts to eliminate BFR and PVC because of potential e-waste issues. HP is a worldwide leader in e-waste recycling. HP has recycled one billion pounds of electronic products from 1987-2007 and has committed to recycling another billion pounds between 2008-2011.

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