Greenpeace – Guide to Greener Electronics 2010

First released in 2006, the guide ranks 18 top manufacturers of PCs, mobile phones, TVs and games consoles according to their policies on toxic chemicals, recycling and climate change. Though controversial, this guide has had some impact on the industry.

Greenpeace 2010 Green Guide To say that the guide is controversial is an understatement.. Here’s how the industry met the first issues of the guide, as reported by Tom Zeller Jr. in the New York Times:

“It’s not at all clear to us what Greenpeace based this report on” said a representative of the Electronics Industry Association.

a technology columnist at BusinessWeek magazine, Arik Hesseldahl, wrote, “There goes Greenpeace again, making noise with no substance to back it up.”

“In one environmental group’s recent scorecard, Dell, H.P. and Lenovo all scored higher than Apple because of their plans (or ‘plans for releasing plans’ in the case of H.P.),” Steven P. Jobs, chief executive of Apple, said in a statement published on its Web site that year, referring to Hewlett-Packard. “In reality, Apple is ahead of all of these companies in eliminating toxic chemicals from its products.”

In November 2007, after the blog Boing Boing questioned Greenpeace’s rankings — then in its fifth iteration — an anonymous commentator said, “Greenpeace is an evil organization that the press (and blogs in general) should ignore until it dies.”

“We appreciate Greenpeace’s effort to inform consumers about consumer electronics companies’ progress toward environmental sustainability,” said Jennifer Boone Bemisderfer, a senior manager specializing in environmental policy at the Consumer Electronics Association, the industry’s leading trade organization. “Subjective ranking systems can be useful and certainly gain attention for list producers,” Ms. Bemisderfer said. “While there is much more to be done, the fact is that consumer electronics are more energy-efficient and more responsibly produced than at any time in history."

Here’s the January 2010 version of the guide:

7.3 Nokia -- Remains in first place with good scores on toxics use reduction, but loses points on energy.

6.9 Sony Ericsson -- Moves up with top marks on toxics elimination but weak on recycling.

5.3 Toshiba -- Good score on toxics elimination but needs to meet upcoming phase out commitment by March 2010.

5.3 Philips -- Loses points for failing to lobby for phase out of hazardous substance in legislation.

5.1 Apple -- Continues to improve, scoring best on eliminating toxic chemicals and e-waste criteria.

5.1 LG Electronics -- LG score improves, but is still penalized for postponing date for toxics phase out.

5.1 Sony -- Maintains overall score with better energy total, but needs to lobby for stronger chemicals legislation.

5.1 Motorola -- Slightly reduced score, due to lack of lobbying for stronger chemicals legislation.

5.1 Samsung -- Big drop due to penalty point for failing to meet commitment to phase out hazardous substances.

4.9 Panasonic -- Score unchanged, strongest on energy but poor on e-waste and recycling.

4.7 HP -- Improved position thanks to clear support for global emissions reductions, but needs to lobby for improved chemical legislation.

4.5 Acer -- Score unchanged but Acer is lobbying for stronger chemicals legislation.

4.5 Sharp -- Loses points due to poor information on toxics elimination and fails to support stronger chemicals legislation.

3.9 Dell -- Reduced score on energy criteria and penalty point for delaying toxics phase out till 2011.

3.5 Fujitsu -- Improved score due to support for global carbon emission reductions and cutting its own emissions.

2.5 Lenovo -- Score unchanged, with penalty point for indefinite delay on toxics phase out.

2.4 Microsoft -- Reduced score, fails to support strong chemicals legislation.

1.4 Nintendo -- Nintendo remains in last place with the same score.

More information in the videos below. Don’t forget to have a look at Epeat as well, though Greenpeace claims that it has less stringent criteria.

Sources / More info: Greenpeace-line-up, criteria-PDF, scorecard-PDF, Q&A, yt-electronics

Other guide: Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, or Epeat, developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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