A pile of electronic waste on a roadside in Guiyu.
Greener Electronics Guide is our way of getting the electronics
industry to face up to the problem of e-waste. We want
manufacturers to get rid of harmful chemicals in their products. We
want to see an end to the stories of unprotected child labourers
scavenging mountains of cast-off gadgets created by society's
First launched in August 2006 the Guide is now on its 8th
edition. It ranks the top market leaders of the mobile phone,
computer, TV and games console markets according to their policies
and practices on toxic chemicals and take-back. It has been a key
driving force in getting many of the companies to make significant
improvements to their environmental policies. New to this edition
criteria to assess the performance of electronics companies on
tackling climate change.
Companies are scored on disclosure of their greenhouse gas
emissions, commitment for absolute cuts in their own emissions and
support for the mandatory global emissions reductions that are
needed to tackle climate change. On energy efficiency, a selection
of each company's product range is assessed to see how far they
exceed the current de-facto global standard, the US Environmental
Protection Agency's Energy Star. Energy Star sets minimum standards
for energy efficiency for many types of electronic products. The overall percentage of
renewable energy in a companies total energy use is also
The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector
currently accounts for two percent of global greenhouse gas
emissions, equal to the aviation industry. As one of the most
innovative and fastest growing industries, the biggest electronics
companies must show leadership in tackling climate change by
reducing both their direct and indirect climate change
Our international toxics campaigner Iza Kruszewska has noticed
stark contrasts while compiling the Guide: "Electronics giants pay
attention to environmental performance on certain issues, while
ignoring others that are just as important.
Philips, for example, scores well on chemicals and energy
criteria, but scores a zero on e-waste since it has no global
take-back polices. Philips would score higher if it took
responsibility for its own branded e-waste and established
equitable global take-back schemes."
Many companies score well on energy efficiency as their products
comply and exceed Energy Star standards. The best performers on
energy efficiency are
Sony Ericsson and
Apple, with all of their models meeting, and many exceeding,
Energy Star requirements. Sony Ericsson stands out as the first
company to score almost top marks on all of the chemicals criteria.
With all new Sony Ericsson models being PVC-free, the company has
also met the new chemicals criterion in the ranking, having already
banned antimony, beryllium and phthalates from models launched
since January 2008.
Apple missed a big chance to advance its score by not improving
the environmental performance of the new version of the iPhone.
Some companies that promote their 'green' policies come up short
when measured against global standards of measuring impacts on
Dell scores relatively poorly while Toshiba, Samsung and LGE
score close to, or zero, on climate change criteria.
Among the games console makers,
Microsoft drops to second bottom of the Guide with a low score
on climate criteria.
Nintendo's score increases slightly with some improvement on
toxic chemicals and climate policy. However, even Nintendo's
relatively energy efficient Wii console does not meet Energy Star
standards that cover minimum
energy efficiency standards for PCs and consoles.
Real green leaders?
With most companies now scoring less than 5/10, only a company
that rises to the challenge of phasing out toxic chemicals,
increasing the recycling rate of e-waste, using recycled materials
in new products and reducing their impact on climate change can
seriously hope to make the claim of being green.
Check out our
Q&A on the Guide.
Full explanation of
new climate criteria and energy efficiency in the Guide to
Guide to Greener Electronics report.
Get email updates about the greening of the electronics industry
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