Why your Wii stinks of toxic chemicals

Greenpeace hands its first ever zero-rating on environmental practices to Nintendo.

By Farhad Manjoo
November 29, 2007 1:05AM (UTC)
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Few tech companies do particularly well in Greenpeace's latest "Guide to Greener Electronics." The environmental group finds fault with practices at HP, Apple, Motorola, Sharp, Microsoft and Philips, among others.

Then there's Nintendo. Greenpeace gives the company a zero out of 10 possible points for environmental friendliness, the first zero the group has handed out since it began periodically ranking tech companies a year and a half ago.


Greenpeace rates the companies on two basic criteria: the firms' public commitments to eliminating hazardous materials in their manufacturing processes, and their commitment to taking back and recycling their products once you're done with them.

Nintendo's low ranking reflects its unwillingness to disclose specific details regarding manufacturing materials. In a FAQ on its Web site, Nintendo says it adheres to the following environmental principles in its products:

  • We use at least 80 percent recycled paper in all of our shipping packaging.
  • We don't use Styrofoam in any of our packaging.
  • Many of our instruction manuals are printed on recycled paper.
  • Our clamshell packaging is recyclable and most recycling centers accept it.
  • We require that manufacturers not use any banned substances (such as lead, mercury, etc.) in components, nor use them in the manufacturing process for any components used inside of our products. This requirement also extends to suppliers of packaging, marketing materials, and other items used in the marketing and distribution of our products.

So they don't use Styrofoam and like recycled paper! But what about vinyl-based plastics and brominated flame retardants -- PVCs and BFRs, which cause health and environmental damage and which numerous tech firms have vowed to phase out? Nintendo doesn't say.


Neither does Nintendo offer a takeback or recycling program, Greenpeace notes. (See Greenpeace's full Nintendo scorecard here, in PDF format.)

Nintendo expects killer sales over the holidays; its products are some of the most wished-for gifts. With all that cash, surely it can do better than merely abandoning Styrofoam.

Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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