Day 4 here at CeBIT in Hannover, and despite the excellent work and camaraderie of our international crew here in Germany, I am definitely missing my home of Oakland in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area. Besides the great weather (hey, it’s going to be 64F/18C today!), I also have to admit I miss the fine vegetarian food of California. Let’s just say that CeBIT is a bit lacking in the available vegan goodies, unless I want to start crunching on the new bamboo covered laptop from Acer.
Not THAT hungry. Yet.
My rumbling stomach has made me start thinking about all things through a culinary lens, and I figured that this would be a good theme for today’s post. As you’ll see in the video below, my colleague Omer visited various exhibits in search of the newest eco-friendly laptops.
There’s still no clear winner, which is consistent with the report we released earlier this week, ranking company’s greenest products to date.
No one product excelled in all areas. It appears that when certain electronics focused on improved energy efficiency, they lagged behind in the elimination of toxic chemicals such as PVC and Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs). Similarly, products that excelled in designing out these toxic chemicals didn’t possess good policies on product lifecycle – a product’s warranty, upgradeability and recyclability. Ho hum.....
For me, it was the culinary equivalent of sitting down for a wonderful meal of spicy red pepper risotto, coupled with a mouth-watering bean bruschetta . . . only to be paired with a red wine that had been left open weeks ago and now resembles vinegar more than pinot. Or biting into a tasty whole-wheat burrito filled with organic veggies . . . and rancid guacamole. You get the picture.
So what’s the recipe for a truly green laptop? Like any electronic product, I’d suggest equal parts:
Energy efficiency – going beyond the standards of Energy Star and letting customers know how to best use their electronics efficiently. The Lenovo x300 is making good progress on these issues.
Designing out Toxics – going beyond the European laws (no double standards elsewhere!) and eliminating toxic chemicals such as PVC, BFRs, beryllium, phthalates that can cause cancer and development damage. The Apple Mac Book Air has made real strides here.
Attention to Lifecycle and Producer Responsibility – making longer warranties, increasing the amount of spare and upgradeable parts that are available, and making the products truly recyclable – leading the way for aggressive and effective “takeback” programs from producers. Dell has relative strength on producer responsibility and their new XPS M1330 notebook scores high on warranty and recyclability.
Sprinkle in a dash of continued innovation – the “spice” of creativity that pushes the dish over the top from its rivals and you are finished.
As with all new culinary adventures, this recipe for green electronics will get better with time and tweaks. These products above are far from perfect. But products and companies that were green leaders six or twelve months ago in our greener electronic rankings are now clawing to catch up to the newest green improvements. As long as we all continue to pressure the industry to improve, we will achieve electronics that are truly green in all aspects. This can and will be a meal that can get better every time we prepare it!