Continuing to Build Greener Products

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ChemSec issued a report this week showcasing 28 electronics manufacturers eliminating brominated flame retardants (BFR) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) from their products. For those new to these substances, BFRs are often used in electronics to curb the spread of fire, and PVC-plastic is used in cables and casings. When disposed of improperly, including burning them at low temperatures, PVC and BFR can release harmful dioxins.

ChemSec’s report says “companies in the IT and communications sector are at the forefront when it comes to eliminating the use” of these substances, and it lists 155 IT and communications products that are either PVC/BFR-free or almost free (meaning only minor parts, such as in the external power cord or the circuit board, contain BFR or PVC).

This list includes 10 Dell products, including three OptiPlex desktops, our Mini 3i phone, and all of our monitors.

In our commitment to help customers minimize their impact on the planet, we’re eliminating substances of concern from our products. We restrict the use of cadmium, hexavalent chromium, lead, mercury, PBBs and PBDEs in Dell-branded products, and we’ve established public goals to phase-out remaining uses of lead and other non-regulated substances (including BFRs and PVC) in advance of legal requirements.

By the end of 2011, all newly introduced Dell personal computing products will be BFR- and PVC-free.

That said, legislation is an important part of ending the industry’s use of these substances. In 2006, the European Union established the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive to restrict the use of cadmium, hexavalent chromium, lead, mercury and certain halogenated flame retardants (PBBs and PBDEs) in electronic products. EU legislators are now considering adding PVC and BFR to the list of restricted substances.

At Dell, we support including BFRs and PVC into the RoHS directive, as well as a ban on these substances in IT, telecom and consumer equipment in 2015. We hope EU decision makers revise RoHS to prohibit the use of PVC and BFRs in electrical and electronic equipment.

About the Author: Michael Murphy

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