Greenpeace grades electronics companies

Environmental NGO Greenpeace has given rankings to top PC and mobile phone manufacturers based on their performance and attitudes to pollution and waste.

In its Guide to Greener Electronics the campaign group looks at chemicals policy and practice and companies’ positions on taking back discarded electronic products and recycling.

Greenpeace says it will use the scorecard to hit companies where it hurts – their pockets – by informing consumers and creating a greater demand for toxic-free electronics which can be safely recycled.

“The scorecard will provide a dynamic tool to green the electronics sector by setting off a race to the top,” claimed Iza Kruszewska, a toxics campaigner for Greenpeace.

“By taking back their discarded products, companies will have incentives to eliminate harmful substances used in their products, since this is the only way they can ensure safe reuse and recycling of electronic waste.”

The guide concludes that all 14 of the leading brands it looked at fail to meet the standards Greenpeace would like to see in place, but some companies did significantly better than others.

Nokia and Dell share the top spot in the ranking, as their stated belief is that as producers they should bear responsibility for taking back and reusing or recycling their own-brand discarded products.

Nokia leads the way on eliminating toxic chemicals, since the end of 2005 all new models of mobiles are free of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and all new components to be free of brominated flame retardants (BFRs) from the start of 2007.

Dell has also set ambitious targets for eliminating these harmful substances from their products.

Third place goes to HP, followed by Sony Ericsson, Samsung, Sony, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Toshiba, Fujitsu Siemens Computers, Apple, Acer and Motorola.

Lenovo is in bottom position. It earns points for chemicals management and providing some voluntary product take back programmes, but it needs to do better on all criteria if it wants to impress the environmental lobby.

“It is disappointing to see Apple ranking so low in the overall guide,” said Ms Kruszewska.

“They are meant to be world leaders in design and marketing, they should also be world leaders in environmental innovation.”

Companies have the opportunity to move towards a greener ranking as the guide will be updated every quarter. Points will be lost by companies found failing to practice what they preach.

The guide is based on information made publicly available by the companies on their websites.

Responsible practice on toxic substances carries more weight on the scoring than the waste and recycling issues, as Greenpeace argues safe, toxic-free recycling is impossible without first eliminating the hazardous materials used in production.

Sam Bond

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