There are encouraging signs that electronic goods such as PCs and mobile phones could become ‘greener’, according to the latest review of electronics manufacturers’ policies published by Greenpeace today. The latest version of the Greenpeace ‘Guide to Greener Electronics’(1) which ranks 14 top manufacturers of PC's and mobile phones, shows that most companies have demonstrated commitments to greener manufacturing processes, such as eliminating the use of the most hazardous chemicals, and recycling policies such as financing take-back, reuse or recycling of end-of-life products. Apple, however, lags far behind the competition, presently occupying the last place in the ranking guide.
"We are witnessing a global shift towards greener PCs, with Acer and Lenovo, two major producers of PCs, committing to eliminate the use of the most hazardous chemicals from their products range," said Iza Kruszewska, Greenpeace International toxics campaigner, "Most companies now score above average points on the ranking guide, with only five companies failing to score even the average of five points. The top-ranked brands have adopted a precautionary chemical policy by committing to eliminate the use of the most hazardous chemicals in their products. They have acknowledged that as producers, they bear individual responsibility for financing the take-back and responsible reuse or recycling of their own-brand discarded products."
Nokia continues to hold the top spot in the ranking, with progressive policies on both, its chemicals policy as well as disposal; of electronic waste. However, the company is yet to outline clear timelines for phasing out PVC in all its products.
"In sharp contrast, Apple is awarded the last position because the company has made absolutely no improvements to its policies or practices since the ranking was first released three months ago, although most of its competitors have improved environmental policies," said Kruszewska, "Despite being the world leader in innovation and design, Apple is losing the race by failing to keep up with the other companies."
Motorola has been the fastest mover in the ranking guide. Although the company was ranked second worst in the first version of the guide, it has made strong commitments in the interim, and has moved up the ranking to come in at fourth place. Lenovo has also made strong policy commitments, to jump from the bottom spot up to its current 8th place. Fujitsu-Siemens and Acer made substantial progress and are now ranked 3rd and 7th respectively, moving up from their earlier 10th and 12th positions.
LGE, Samsug and Sony have lost points for failing to act on their commitments to individual producer responsibility (IPR); instead, the companies are supporting regulation in the US that would place the responsibility for product recycling on consumers instead of producers.
In September 2006, HP was given a 'penalty' - one point was deducted from the company's overall score when Greenpeace scientists' analysis of an HP laptop revealed the presence of decaBDE, a type of brominated flame retardant that HP claimed it no longer used. HP was quick to respond to investigate the matter and has now released a statement on its website that reaffirms its commitment not to use decaBDE, explains how decaBDE came to be found in the HP laptop and details what action has been taken to avoid similar problems in the future - at which point the penalty was lifted. (2)
"Companies seem to respond to competition rather than conscience. By turning the spotlight onto top electronics companies and challenging them to outrank their competition, the "Guide to Greener Electronics" has succeeded in motivating companies to improve their policies on chemicals and waste," concluded Kruszewska.
Guide to Greener Electronics - new ranking December 2006
Company and Score
Company and Score
Nokia (7.3/10) ↔
Dell (7/10) ↔
Fujitsu-Siemens (6/10) ↑
Motorola (6/10) ↑
Sony Ericsson (5.3/10)
Sony Ericsson (5.7/10) ↓
HP (5.7/10) ↓
Acer (5.3/10) ↑
Sony (5/10) ↓
Panasonic (4.3/10) ↓
Toshiba (3.7/10) ↓
Apple (2.7/10) ↓
The electronics guide ranks companies on:
1. Chemicals policy and practice (5 criteria)
2. Policy and practice on taking back discarded electronic products (ewaste) and recycling (4 criteria).
For an explanation on the ranking and criteria please see here.