Electronics companies race to be greener

Feature story - 6 December, 2006
Acer and Lenovo are the latest of the top computer makers to commit to stop using the worst toxic chemicals in their products. Along with Motorola these companies are the biggest movers in the latest version of our Guide to Greener Electronics. Disappointingly for Mac fans, Apple has dropped to last place.

Boy recycling electronic waste by hand in India. Companies with good scores in the ranking are part of the solution to the growing e-waste problem.

We first released our  'Guide to Greener Electronics' in August2006. The guide ranks the 14 top manufacturers of personal computersand mobile phones according to their policies on toxic chemicals andrecycling.

Thepublic ranking has been successful in spurring many companies toimprove, and the second edition, released today, shows good overall industry progress and some major individual improvements in rank.

"We are witnessing a global shift towards greener PCs, with Acer andLenovo, two major producers, committing to eliminate the use ofthe most hazardous chemicals from their products range," said IzaKruszewska, Greenpeace International toxics campaigner, "Most companiesnow score above average points on the ranking guide, with only fivecompanies failing to score even the average of five points."

Full Ranking

The ranking is important because the amounts of toxic e-waste isgrowing every day. It often ends up dumped in the developing world.Reducing the toxic chemicals in products reduces pollution from oldproducts and makes recycling safer, easier and cheaper. Companies withgood recycling schemes help ensure that their products don't end up inthe e-waste yards of Africa and Asia.

Click here to see the full ranking

Green Movers

Nokia continues to hold the top spot in the ranking, with progressivepolicies on both its chemicals policy as well as disposal ofelectronic waste. However, the company is yet to outline cleartimelines for phasing out the toxic plastic PVC (vinyl) in all itsproducts.

Motorola has been the fastest mover in the ranking guide. From secondworst in the first version of the guide, it has made strong commitmentsto moved up to fourth place. Lenovo has also made strong policycommitments, to jump from the bottom to 8th place. Fujitsu-Siemens andAcer made substantial progress and are now ranked 3rd and 7threspectively, moving up from their earlier 10th and 12th positions.

Must do better

Apple has made no improvements in its policies and is now bottom of theranking. While its arch rivals make progress, the world leader ininnovation and design is falling further and further behind.

We'd expect an innovative company which takes pride in 'thinkingdifferent' to be top of the ranking - which was why we launched the Green myApple campaignwhich has mobilized Mac fans worldwide to tell Apple how much they lovetheir products: and how badly they want them to be environmentallysound.

LGE, Samsug and Sony have lost points for failing to act on theircommitments to take responsibility for their waste; instead, thecompanies are supporting regulation in the US that would place theresponsibility for product recycling on consumers instead of producers.

In September 2006, HP had one point deducted from its overall scorewhen analysis of an HP laptop revealed the presence of a type of toxicchemical that HP claimed it no longer used. HP was quick to respond andinvestigate. They went public with an explanation on their website, andthe penalty point was removed.

By turning the public spotlight on top electronics companies andchallenging them to outrank their competition, the guide has succeededin motivating many companies to improve their policies on chemicals andwaste.

Butultimately, companies only respond to issues that matter to theircustomers.  If you're a Mac or iPod user, join the growing ranksof Apple users telling Steve Jobs that the back of the pack is just no place for Apple

Here's a few of the ways they are asking:

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