We recently launched the 17th edition of our Guide to Greener Electronics, which has in the 6 years of its existence, become the ultimate scorecard for ranking consumer electronics companies on their efforts to improve their environmental impact.
On November 16th, a rather bizarre blog by US Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) CEO Gary Shapiro appeared on the website of business magazine Forbes. In response, we’ve decided to put Mr. Shapiro straight on the several inaccurate statements that he has made, and invite him, and the CEA to join us in the shift towards Greener Electronics. In the blog, Mr. Shapiro discusses Greenpeace’s campaign work in the consumer electronics and ICT sectors, specifically our Guide to Greener Electronics. The green guide, along with our Cool IT Leaderboard, which measures climate leadership and how ICT companies are investing renewable energy and ‘unfriending coal’, uses public information and data supplied by companies themselves to produce these rankings.
We both campaign against and engage with corporations around the globe on issues ranging from forest protection to climate leadership and greenhouse gas reductions. We do this because of the large and influential role corporations can and need to play in both stopping practices detrimental to the environment, and the leadership roles many companies can play in creating a transformative economy centred on conservation and powered by renewable energy.
One of the areas we assess is how, and on what, corporations lobby. The products made by manufacturers are indeed important, but so are the rules and laws that govern and regulate them. The truth is that consumer electronics companies lobby and influence a host of issues, and it's overdue that these companies' government affairs teams spend a bulk of their political capital advocating for strong environmental laws as well. On the environment, many companies are punching below their weight.
Mr. Shapiro’s charge is patently false; Greenpeace does not tell individuals or companies to drop membership in trade associations. However, we think that companies should be held accountable to speak out when their trade association uses their name in a way that contradicts a company’s stated environmental policy. This was necessary last year as a host of major multinational companies spoke out against the regressive climate policies of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, including ICT companies Cisco, Apple, Google and Microsoft. And it's necessary now when companies or their trade associations lobby against energy efficiency legislation; the law mentioned in Mr. Shapiro's blog, recently passed by the state of California, is projected by the California Energy Commission to save consumers up to one billion dollars per year in energy costs.
Since the first version of our Guide to Greenpeace Electronics was released in 2006, we’ve seen significant improvements within the electronics industry, as many companies have gone beyond current law and the policies advocated by CEA and phased out hazardous substances such as PVC and BFR from their products. Companies have also supported producer responsibility laws for e- waste, again in opposition to CEA advocacy, which has historically focused on shifting recycling costs to consumers. Shining a light on these issues, as we do in our guide, is a positive thing. The information presented informs consumers and encourages a race to the top in terms of environmental performance from a competitive industry that is based on innovation.
Indeed, even CEA is seeing a shift in consumer consciousness of green electronics, showing that over 70% of people it surveyed want and plan on buying green electronics in the future. When factoring in this data together with the environmental progress seen by many companies in the electronics sector, it is surprising to read Mr. Shapiro accusations against Greenpeace in his blog. His words don't reflect the reality of many CEA companies, nor the positive and productive experience Greenpeace has had in engaging with this sector.