Eco-Friendliness Ratings for Hardware Manufacturers

A story on the BBC website described the results of the latest Greenpeace assessment of the “eco-friendliness” of 14 electronics firms. What is interesting is that this sort of report, which used to be a media blip at best, now appears to motivate behavior, at least among some companies. Lenovo, which came out on top this time, with a score of 8 out of a possible 10, had ranked badly in past studies and had clearly decided to improve its standing. Greenpeace also said that companies were taking action to reduce toxic waste rather than merely issuing statements. And it is telling that Apple, which was at the bottom with a score of 2.7, felt compelled to respond (it took issue with the methodology).

From the BBC:

Chinese computer maker Lenovo has topped a ranking of the world’s most eco-friendly electronics firms.

Compiled by Greenpeace, the quarterly report ranks firms by how green their production processes are and what they do to recycle hardware they sell.

In previous reports Lenovo ranked low for eco-friendliness but in 2007 it scooped the top spot over Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Dell, and Samsung.

Apple came last of the 14 firms Greenpeace profiled in the report.

The study, which was first compiled in 2006, looks at how big electronics firms make their hardware to see if they use toxic chemicals in the production process and scrutinises what they do to recycle goods when customers have stopped using them.

The campaigning group said that overall scores for the hi-tech firms it profiled had improved but it shied away from describing any hardware maker as “green”.

Despite this, Iza Kruszewska, Greenpeace international toxics campaigner, said the industry had made some positive steps in the last 12 months with firms starting to act rather than just issue statements of intent. Of the 14 companies profiled, said Ms Kruszewska, nine now score more than five out of 10.

Top of the table Lenovo, which bought IBM’s consumer electronics division in 2005, got 8 out of 10 for offering takeback services in all the nations where its products are sold. This means it will recycle any broken or obsolete own-brand product returned to it.

“Given the growing mountains of e-waste in China – both imported and domestically generated – it is heartening to see a Chinese company taking the lead, and assuming responsibility at least for its own branded waste,” said Ms Kruszewska.

However, Lenovo lost marks for still using some of the most toxic substances to make its products.

Other firms in the top five, such as Sony-Ericsson, have already eliminated toxic chemicals including brominated fire retardants, polyvinyl chloride, beryllium and phthalates from their factories.

Greenpeace criticised Apple for not setting a deadline for eliminating some toxic chemicals from its production processes. Apple scored 2.7 out of 10 on Greenpeace’s ranking.

In response, Apple said in a statement: “We disagree with Greenpeace’s rating and the criteria.”

The company added: “Apple has a strong environmental track record and has led the industry in restricting and banning toxic substances such as mercury, cadmium and hexavalent chromium, as well as many brominated flame retardants.”

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