Boys burning electronic cables and other electrical components in order to melt off the plastic and reclaim the copper wiring. This burning in small fires releases toxic chemicals into the environment.
The Greener Electronics Guide is our way of
getting the electronicsindustry to take responsibility for the
entire lifecycle of theirproducts. We want them to face up to the
problem of e-waste and take onthe challenge of tackling climate
First launched in August 2006 and now in its
9th edition, the Guideranks the leaders of the mobile phone,
computer, TV and games consolemarkets according to their policies
and practices on toxic chemicals,recycling and energy.
The Guide has been a key driving force in getting many companies
to make significant improvements to their environmental policies,
and it continues to provoke significant change in the industry.
Intel recently announced that its new Xeon 5400 processors use
transistors made from hafnium, thus avoiding the use of toxic
Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs). Last week, we also saw the announcement by Apple that its new line of
iPods would be free of BFRs, PVC and mercury.
Who's in the lead, and who's in need?
Scoring seven points out of ten, Nokia has regained the lead, due largely to
its improved take-back practice in India. Samsung, a top scorer on the energy-efficiency
of its products, takes second place with 5.9 points. Fujitsu Siemens Computers jumps to third place
with 5.5 points, having finally set late 2010 as its deadline for
eliminating toxic PVC plastic and all BFRs from across its product
range. Although Sony Ericsson and Sony - who enjoyed the top two positions in
the previous edition - rank fourth and fifth respectively this time
around, they remain in the top half of the ranking with scores of
Languishing at the bottom of the ranking is Sharp with 3.1, Microsoft with 2.2 points and Nintendo, with only 0.8.
Greener Electronics: Toxic-free
We want manufacturers to eliminate harmful chemicals in their
product design. While no company has, so far, released a computer
completely free of BFRs and PVC, several have recently launched
products with restricted amounts of toxic BFRs and PVC. Sony
Ericsson stands out, having banned hazardous chemicals such as
antimony, beryllium and phthalates since the beginning of the year.
All of its new models are PVC-free. Following the lead set by
companies like Sony Ericsson, and Nokia, Apple has also announced that its new line of
iPods will be free of BFRs, PVC and mercury.
This is a first step towards Apple putting its money where its
mouth is: Apple committed to a complete phase-out of PVC and BFRs
from all of its products by the end of 2008. With the new iPods
being the cheapest models yet, this is clear proof that
high-performing electronics products can be affordable, popular and
effective without using toxic chemicals. A downside to Apple's new
iPod is its built-in obsolescence; because of the high costs to
replace the battery, new product purchase is encouraged.
Apple has positioned itself among the leaders on PVC and BFR
phase-out, but the iPod alone is not enough to increase its overall
score. A complete phase out of all toxic chemicals across its
entire product range would improve Apple's ranking, and the company
needs to improve its record on recycling and climate policy. We're
urging Apple to introduce a free, global recycling scheme like
rivals such as Dell.
Greener Electronics: Energy-efficient
Since the 8th edition of the Guide criteria to assess the
companies' performance in tackling climate change have been
introduced. The global Information and Communication Technology
industry is estimated to be responsible for approximately 2 percent
of global carbon dioxide (CO2)
emissions, and the rapid proliferation of energy-hungry electronic
gadgets is part of this. It's vital that the electronics industry
plays a leading role in producing more energy-efficient products.
Aside from assessing the efficiency of their products, we also
score companies according to how much renewable energy they use and
the level of their commitment to significantly reducing
Top scorers on energy-efficiency of individual products are
Apple, Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Samsung, with Toshiba providing a further example of a
company that is improving its climate policy.
Greener Electronics: Responsibly recycled
We want to see an end to the stories of unprotected child
labourers scavenging mountains of cast-off gadgets created by
society's gizmo-loving ways. The latest place where we have
discovered high-tech toxic trash causing horrendous pollution is in
Ghana. Our recent investigation into e-waste dumping in
Ghana revealed major companies' products being torn apart in
almost mediaeval conditions, exposing people to alarming levels of
Philips stands out as the company with the
worst position on e-waste and recycling. It ranks 12th with 4.3
points, retaining its penalty point for negative lobbying on
Individual Producer Responsibility in the EU. Put simply, this
means that companies like Philips believe that the costs for
responsible recycling of their obsolete and end-of-life products
should be met by governments and consumers (and that means
Philips has a bad history of holding this negative stance on
recycling. Together with Sharp and Sanyo, Philips was a member
of the Electronic Manufacturers' Coalition for Responsible
Recycling, a coalition of TV producers in the US that lobbied
against producer responsibility for financing e-waste recycling and
instead putting this responsibility - and expense - on governments
and the buyers of its products (that means you!). Many companies
left this coalition after being either penalised or threatened with
a penalty in earlier editions of our Greener Electronics Guide, and
the coalition was finally dissolved in August.
Switching to Green Electronics
With more companies now scoring higher than 5 out of 10 - the
halfway mark in the ranking - 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 its
impact on climate change could soon find itself winning the race to produce the world's first
truly green electronics.
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