An Environmental Report Card for Technology Companies

Feature story - August 25, 2006
In a test of environmental compatibility, some of the world’s biggest electronics companies have failed miserably. Scores were based on just two subjects: chemical toxicity and recycling aptitude.

Toxic Chemicals

In this test, high levels of toxic chemicals in electronics products means more than a failing grade for the company, it represents serious health and environmental hazards to children in the developing world who take these products apart for scraps. Toxic ingredients like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) don't improve the quality of electronic performance, but exposure to them can cause a series of health threats throughout the life cycle of the product.

Recycling and Take Back Programs

The growing popularity of electronic technology and changing trends have resulted in massive quantities of discarded products that often end up in scrap yards in the developing world. We graded the leading technology companies on their policies for taking back and reusing or recycling their own-brand discarded products.

So who was at the head of the class and who failed?

While none of these companies passed our test with flying colors, Nokia and Dell lead the pack with positive steps toward eliminating toxics and implementing take back programs. Apple isn't charming any teachers these days. With a bushel of toxic chemicals and a poor recycling program, the company received a failing grade. Acer, Motorola, and Lenovo flunked the test entirely.

  1. Nokia
  2. Dell
  3. HP
  4. Sony Ericsson
  5. Samsung
  6. Sony
  7. LG Electronics
  8. Panasonic
  9. Toshiba
  10. Fujitsu Siemens Computers
  11. Apple
  12. Acer
  13. Motorola
  14. Lenovo

See the Test Results

A Formula for Success

Every quarter, we'll release a new report card to keep these companies on their toes. To graduate from our school of environmentally-friendly electronics, the requirements are simple really:

  • Set a clear timeline to remove all toxic chemicals from electronic production and products.
  • Develop a clear take back policy and recycling program.

Do your homework

Download the full report card to see how your favorite gadgets scored.