Green gadgets - The search continues

Feature story - 8 January, 2009
The latest survey of greener electronics products has revealed that the greenest consumer electronic products on the market today may have a smaller environmental footprint than those sold a year ago, but the industry still has a way to go before they can claim a truly green product.

To design truly green electronics, companies need to shift away from limited lifespan and towards long-living upgradeable goods.

Our second greener products survey, "GreenElectronics: the search continues" assesses the progress made over the last year by consumer electronic companies on their commitments to green their products.

Fifteen major electronics brands submitted 50 of their most environmentally friendly new products - mobile and smart phones, televisions, computer monitors, notebook and desktop computers, and game consoles for evaluation.

The survey assesses the products on their use of hazardous chemicals, energy efficiency, overall product lifecycle (recyclability and upgradeability) and other factors such as the promotion of environmental friendliness and innovation.

The green news

This year's survey had companies scoring higher and more competitively than last year. We found that fewer products on the market contain PVC plastic and that fewer hazardous chemicals are being used in products in general. LED displays, which save energy and avoid the use of mercury in backlights, can be found in more products today and manufacturers are using more post-consumer recycled plastic in TVs and monitors.

Most companies have established better voluntary take-backand recycling programmes and adapted quickly to the new requirements of EnergyStar.  But not everyone was happy to have their products evaluated. Companies that were asked but declined to submit products were: Apple, Asus, Microsoft, Nintendo, Palm and Philips.

The Lenovo L2440x wide computer monitor scored highest with 6.9 points (on a 10 point scale) and is far ahead of the competition in the monitor category. Other product category leaders include the Sharp LC-52GX5 television (5.92), the Samsung F268 mobile phone (5.45), the Nokia 6210 Smart phone (5.2) the Toshiba Portege R600 Notebook (5.57) and the Lenovo ThinkCentre M58 Desktop (5.88).

However no product scored high enough across all areas to deserve the accolade of a truly 'green product'. Unfortunately if you are in the market for a new electronics product it's still a choice between a product that is green in one area but not in another. To show we is possible right now if all current green innovations were combined we took the top scores of each product category to make a composite score for the industry. These 'best practice' scores, ranging as high as 8.6, demonstrate that there is environmental know-how available now to produce electronics that are significantly greener than anything on the shelves today.

The electronics industry is heading in the right direction. To stay in the race to a green product, every company needs to put its foot on the accelerator. It's time to take the progress made with their greenest products and apply that standard across the board to all of its product lines. A few expensive niche products is not enough. The electronics industry is one of the most innovative industry on the planet. It's time these companies step up and give the green gadgets we are all looking for.

This week, electronics companies will gather at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevadato introduce their latest products.

Want to know more? Our team at the CES is twittering and blogging as we present the new survey and check out the latest gadgets.

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