FAQ about the Guide to Greener Electronics

Greenpeace International’s Guide to Greener Electronics aims to push the electronics sector to reduce its environmental impact, its energy use and emissions throughout its supply chain, and its use of unsustainable materials. The Guide also pushes companies to use their influence in support of stronger environmental legislation.

The Story of Stuff Project's "The Story of Electronics" gives a great, simple explanation about many of the environmental impacts of the consumer electronics industry.

Frequently Asked Questions & Answers

  • 1. What are the goals of the Guide?

    In November 2011, Greenpeace International updated the Guide’s criteria to reflect progress within the industry since 2006 and to set a new challenge for the industry to become more sustainable across company operations and supply chains. The goals of the Guide are to get companies to:
    - Set ambitious goals for greenhouse gas reductions and develop a strong strategy to use up to 100 percent renewable power by 2020
    - Produce efficient, long lasting products free from hazardous substances
    - Focus on sustainable practices across the global electronics supply chain

  • 2. How does the Guide create change within the industry?

    The electronics sector and major consumer electronics companies are highly innovative but also highly competitive. By publicly comparing companiss’ relative performance, we encourage best practices to take hold within the sector, and provide customers with an independent assessment of how companies are addressing the most important environmental challenges facing the industry.

  • 3. What criteria does Greenpeace use for its ranking?

    Criteria on Energy and Climate
    1. Disclosure of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
    2. Commitment to reduce the company’s own short term and long term GHG emissions
    3. A clean energy plan, which includes increasing use of renewable energy and
    4. Energy efficiency measures to implement cuts in GHGs
    5. Advocacy for a clean energy policy at national and sub-national level

    Criteria on Greener Products
    1. Energy efficiency of new models of specified products
    2. Products free from hazardous substances
    3. Use of recycled plastics in products
    4. Product life cycle

    Criteria on Sustainable Operations
    1. Reduction of GHG emissions from energy use by suppliers
    2. Policy, practice and advocacy on chemicals management
    3. Policy and practice on sustainable sourcing of fibres for paper
    4. Policy and practice on avoidance of conflict minerals
    5. Producer responsibility for voluntary take-back of e-waste

    Maximum points
    Depending on the complexity of the criteria and the relative importance of the issue the maxi-mum points awarded per criteria vary between 3, 5 and 8 points

    Company scores
    Companies have the opportunity to improve their score, as the Guide is periodically updated. However, penalty points are deducted from overall scores if Greenpeace finds a company lying, practicing double standards or regressive advocacy, or other corporate misconduct.

  • 4. How were Wipro and HCL Infosystems' scores on the Indian version of the Guide integrated into this latest global edition of the Guide?

    The changes in ranking order are based on the integration of Wipro (5.4) and HCL Infosystems' (4.3) scores from the previous version of the Guide. In previous rankings, Wipro and HCL's score were released only in India, though the evaluation criteria were identical. To gauge ranking order changes in this latest edition of the Guide, Wipro and HCL's previous scores were intergrated into the past ranking order of the globally released Guide. In the previous global ranking, Wipro would have been ranked second, HCL seventh.

  • 5. How does Greenpeace decide which companies to rank?

    Greenpeace uses the latest industry sales figures of global market share for the past year (in this case 2011) in the mobile devices, PC and TV markets to determine the companies selected for the Guide.

  • 6. What is the biggest change the Guide has driven among the consumer electronics companies and what effect has this change had on the environment?

    Since the Guide was launched in August, 2006 it (together with increased coverage and awareness of toxics in electronics and e-waste) has driven numerous improvements.

    Many companies are removing the worst toxic chemicals from their products and improving their recycling schemes. This demonstrates that many of the companies ranked in the Guide not only take the results very seriously but also take action to improve their performance and of course ranking.

  • 7. Why is the ranking based on public information?

    Greenpeace assesses companies based only on their public information and practice to ensure the ranking is transparent. Companies can be held publicly accountable when they do make commitments. Making changes public also helps drive competition between the companies. The only criterion where nonpublic information is accepted is on advocacy, where a company may have voiced a clear position to relevant decision makers but does not make this public.

  • 8. How does Greenpeace ensure that companies match commitments with action?

    As the Guide ranks company policy and practice, it is vital to check if what a company states is actual happening. Greenpeace International uses chemical testing of products, reports from industry observers, media reports and testing of consumer programs to check if company practice actually matches stated policy. Greenpeace issues penalty points where we discover actions in contradiction of company policy. When we deduct penalty points, we clearly explain why.

  • 9. How do you engage with companies in the Guide?

    The Guide was recirculated to companies in June of 2012. Greenpeace International requested that companies submit information for scoring by September 2012. Greenpeace corresponds with any company that requests additional information or has questions. Greenpeace seeks clarification from the companies concerned in advance of each Guide.

  • 10. Why does the energy used to manufacture products matter so much?

    The electricity that your devices use when you plug them into the wall is often just a small part of the total electricity that it took to build them. The supply chain, shipping and distribution can all lead to significant greenhouse gas emissions before a product is ever used. This is why companies that have assessed the greenhouse gas emissions they generate, and have a plan to significantly reduce those emissions, score the best.

  • 11. Why is 100 percent renewable energy use by 2020 important?

    A massive increase in renewable energy is needed to achieve the level of greenhouse gas emission reductions required to tackle climate change. The Greenpeace Energy [R]evolution outlines how renewable energy can supply most of the world’s electricity by 2050. Greenpeace is challenging all electronic companies to set ambitious goals to run their companies on renewable energy by 2020. This would allow companies to grow while reducing their emissions.

  • 12. What exactly is a clean electricity plan?

    A clean electricity plan evaluates the company’s implementation plan for achieving its green-house gas commitments through energy efficiency and renewable energy investment and deployment. Full points go to companies with proof of a comprehensive clean energy plan, with a goal and strategy to reach 100 percent of their own operations electricity demand through the use of renewable energy.

  • 13. What is company advocacy and why is it important?

    Companies in the electronics sector can drive fast progress towards a clean energy economy by aligning their policy advocacy with scientifically established greenhouse gas reduction targets, along with renewable energy and energy efficiency mandates and incentives. The implementation of greenhouse gas savings will require policy support and financing mechanisms, and IT companies must apply their considerable political influence toward achieving these conditions.

  • 14. How does this Guide differ from other assessments, such as the EPEAT tool and the Good Guide?

    The Guide scores overall company policy and its entire consumer products range to produce the overall company score. It does not rate specific products from individual companies compared to each other. Both the EPEAT tool and the Good Guide are product based assessments.

  • 15. Can I use this as a shopping Guide?

    While you cannot use the Guide as product guide to find, for example, the greenest mobile phone, it does allow you to compare the company-wide policy and practice of all leading mobile phone makers. You can also use the Guide to ask questions about the environmental attributes of electronics products.

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