Apple Greener, Nokia regains lead in electronics ranking

Feature story - June 27, 2007
The fourth edition of the Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics is out now. Apple moves up as a result of Steve Job's "Greener Apple" pledge to phase out PVC and other chemicals from their product line. But Nokia is on top because they've already phased out PVC, and met or exceeded a wide set of benchmarks we've laid down to reduce the amount and toxicity of electronic waste piling up in Asia and Africa.

Chinese e-waste scrap yard, as seen through a monitor you might have owned once.

The electronics ranking guide has been our answer to gettingthe electronics industry to face up to the problem of e-waste. We wantmanufacturers to take responsibility for the unprotected child labourerswho scavenge the mountains of cast-off gadgets created by ourgizmo-loving ways.

We'vebeen happily surprised at how quickly many corporations have risen tothe competitive challenge. It's especially rewarding to see morethan a few CEOs openly vying for the top green spot, and challengingtheir competitors to adopt industry-wide policies to reduce the problemof e-waste.

In the current ranking, Dell and Chinese manufacturer Lenovo are tied for second place.

Dellscores top marks for reporting its current recycling rate based on sales 7years ago, and for a strong global take-back policy for outdatedgear.

Lenovo's support for precautionary policies andlegislation making producers responsible for their products at the endof their lifetime mean high marks for them. In the April version ofthe ranking Lenovo scored higher points for a global takeback policy.However our investigation of the implementation of this policy in practicereveals incomplete implementation.

Both Dell and Lenovo's programmes are not available outside countrieswhere they sell direct, and both do not provide information on theirtakeback policies everywhere that they should.

Sony-Ericsson andSamsung pull up third and fourth with limited recycling programmes in afew countries and good, but uneven, performance on other criteria forremoving toxic chemicals.

This quarter's ranking shows that 12of the 14 companies assessed have now scored 5 or more out of ten: anindustry-wide improvement in harmful chemicals and waste policies.Which company will be the first to get top marks in the guide? You canchallenge the top computer makers to produce a greener computer rightnow.

Apple rises, Sony falls

Sony is the biggestloser in the race this edition, languishing at the bottom along withLGE, penalised for double standards on their waste policies.

Apple was the lowest-ranked electronics manufacturer in the last Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics, but makes the biggest jump this time, into 10th place, thanks to pressure from Apple fans around the world through the Green my Apple campaign.

Applemay start to rival other, greener companies if their much-awaitediPhone becomes the company's first truly greener product. There's no reason it can't.Apple uses at least one of the same suppliers that currently provideNokia, Sony-Ericsson, and other phone manufacturers with componentsfree of PVC and brominated flame retardants.

"Clearly, companiesare racing to produce greener products" says Iza Kruszewska, our ToxicsCampaigner. "Steve Job's latest commitment to eliminate toxics materials, movedApple up the chart and they now face a challenge, with the iPhone, tomeet customer expectations to be the environmental leader Apple-loverswant."

More and more companies are providinginformation on products that are free from the worst chemicals. Forexample, as of March 2007, Panasonic has many examples of 100 percentPVC-free products on the market, including DVD players and recorders,home cinemas, video players, and now provides a list of products thatare PVC-free. Meanwhile, Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Motorola areintroducing increasing numbers of models that are also free from PVCand brominated flame retardants.

The Greenpeace Guideclearly demonstrates that companies are starting to act on theirresponsibility for taking back and recycling their own-branded waste,more and more extended voluntary programmes and providing informationto customers on what to do with discarded electronics. 

Take action

Challenge the electronics industry to create a green computer. Who will be the first perfect 10?

Donate

We never allow ourselves to be fed by a hand we might want to bite. Not accepting corporate donations means we rely entirely on people like you to help keep us going. Some of our corporate targets spend in a few hours what we spend in an entire year. Please help with anything you can.