Hewlett-Packard pledged to stop using dangerous plastics in its computers by 2009. It broke that promise. Will a company-wide voicemail from William Shatner make it change its mind?
"This is William Shatner speaking," he begins, with all the brisk efficiency that led us to follow him through galaxy after galaxy on the USS Enterprise. "You, HP, promised me a toxic-free computer by 2009. Now my friends at Greenpeace tell me that I'll have to wait till 2011. What's up with that?" He goes on, in his masterful yet diplomatic way, to suggest they ask their "leader" to make computers that are free of brominated flame retardants and PVC plastic, (as they promised) and gently reminds them that Apple seem to have managed it. He winds up, as polite and simultaneously authoritative as ever, by wishing them all "an enjoyable day". It is a bloomin' masterpiece.
The whole thing was set up by Greenpeace, which also climbed up onto the roof of the HP building and painted – in absolutely enormous writing which could certainly be read from the Enterprise – the words "Hazardous Products". Brominated flame retardants are chemicals added to products to stop them bursting into flame. Once in the waste stream they are potentially toxic for humans and animals, and are banned in some European countries. Alternatives are available and used by other computer manufacturers. PVC meanwhile has long been an environmental sore point and campaign issue for Greenpeace in particular.