Electronics Production | July 20, 2007
Listing: Greenpeace's Guide<br>to Greener Electronics
Apple has finally moved up from being the lowest-ranked electronics manufacturer in the latest Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics and may start to rival the other 'greener' companies if its much-awaited iPhone becomes the company's first environmentally friendly product.
Greenpeace Green Electronics Guide ranks leading mobile and PC manufacturers on their global policies and practice on eliminating harmful chemicals and on taking responsibility for their products once they are discarded by consumers. Companies are ranked on information that is publicly available and communications/clarifications with the companies. It is increasingly difficult to say how green a manufacturer is. That's because almost all of them outsource their factories to EMS-providers. Sun made a rare exception providing the names of three vendors - Solectron, Celestica and Flextronics - that all adhere to an environmental code. Dell won't reveal who supplies its parts. But it says it began asking vendors recently for information about the environmental impact of their operations. Suppliers whose factories release lots of harmful chemicals or otherwise cause damage may have orders reduced. Nokia 8.0 Nokia has reclaimed its position at the top of the ranking. The front-runner has already eliminated PVC from new models of mobiles and is now eliminating BFRs from the remaining applications of BFRs – in new flexible circuits. Nokia gets top marks for its support for Individual Producer Responsibility, (each company should take care of the electronic waste from its own-branded discarded products). But, it loses points for poor reporting on the amounts of discarded mobiles that it recycles as a percentage of past sales. Dell 7.3 Dell's strong position near the top of this scorecard is due to its strong definition of the precautionary principle, timelines for substituting toxic polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and explicit support for Individual Producer Responsibility. Dell has announced its intention to provide global free takeback and recycling services to individual consumers wherever its products are sold. Dell loses points for having no models free of PVC and BFRs on the market. Lenovo 7.3 Lenovo has dropped to joint second place, which still compares well with the bottom position it graced when the Guide was first launched in August 2006. Reasons for Lenovo's rise up the ranking are improvements in its policy positions. Closer examination of Lenovo's takeback and recycling services has revealed some weaknesses e.g. time-limited takeback in Thailand, therefore Lenovo loses points in that criteria. Lenovo also still fails to score any points for providing models on the market that are free of PVC and BFRs. Sony Ericsson 7 Sony Ericsson maintains its position near the top of the ranking, by stating strong support for Individual Producer Responsibility. The company has now set a timeline of 1st January 2008 for eliminating the use of BFRs in two remaining applications, and the same timeline for substituting phthalates, beryllium and some uses of antimony compounds. All new models of mobile put on the market from 2006 are free of the worst chemicals like PVC. On the down side, Sony Ericsson loses points for failing to report on the amounts of discarded mobile phones it takes back and recycles. Samsung 6.7 Samsung remains in 5th place, with top marks on most chemicals criteria apart from the availability of products free of PVC and brominated flame retardants (BFRs). The company has improved their information to consumers on what to do with their discarded products. Samsung loses points for providing voluntary product take back of its electronic waste only in a few countries and only for some product groups. Samsunghas still to report on its recycling rate as a percentage of past sales. Motorola 6.7 Motorola stays in 6th place. Although the company offers its customers an increasing number of models that are free from brominated flame retardants (BFRs), it has still to provide information on PVC-free models and to commit to timelines for eliminating all BFRs and PVC from their entire product portfolio. Motorola provides voluntary take-back/recycling services in 41 countries, accounting for more than 80 % of global mobile phone sales – with a goal in 2007 of 90%. Top marks to Motorola for reporting its recycling rate of 3.32%, as a percentage of sales 12-24 months before. Toshiba 6.0 Toshiba has forged ahead, moving from 10th to 7th place. The company has committed to eliminate PVC and BFRs in all its products and has set a timeline of 2009 by which to remove these toxic substances from PCs and mobiles – a fraction of their entire product portfolio. The company offers models of laptops whose circuit boards are free of brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and EcoMark-certified products without polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The company loses points for its lack of support for Individual Producer Responsibility, but has improved on geographical coverage of its voluntary takeback programme and information to customers on what to do with their discarded products. Toshiba to report on its recycling rate as a percentage of past sales. Fujitsu Siemens 6.0 Fujitsu Siemens (FSC) moves down one place from 7th to 8th. Although FSC sells PCs which do not use BFRs, it has not yet set timelines for the phase out of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and all brominated flame retardants (BFRs) in all its products. The company also needs to improve the coverage of its voluntary takeback programme – the only country without Producer Responsibility legislation where FSC voluntarily takes back its waste products is South Africa. FSC has yet to report on recycling rate as a percentage of past sales. Acer 5.7 Acer stays in 9th place. It scores top marks on chemicals, but has yet to start selling products free of PVC and brominated flame retardants (BFRs). Acer has also improved communication of its waste policy and practice, but still needs to do more on providing voluntary takeback and recycling of its end-of-life products. For example consumers in India are requested to pay 1000 Rupees (about 24 Euro) for the return of their PC for recycling. Acer has yet to report on recycling rates as a percentage of past sales. Apple 5.3 Apple has finally moved off the bottom of the scorecard and is now in 10th position with improvements on many criteria. The company has committed to eliminate all uses of PVC and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) in their products by the end of 2008. They now provide examples of additional substances that they plan to eliminate with timelines, such as arsenic in LCDs and mercury, and Material Safety Data Sheets for all their products. But, Apple has yet to give consumers products free of PVC and BFRs. Top marks to Apple for reporting on its recycling rate as a percentage (9.5%) of sales 7 years ago and for setting goals to recycle nearly 30% by 2010. It could score better by supporting the principle of individual producer responsibility for its end of life products globally. HP 5.3 HP continues to slip down the ranking – now in 11th place. It loses points for weakening its support for Individual Producer Responsibility. HP scores top points for providing a substitution timeline for future substances and was the first company to devise an electronic waste take back / recycling metric based on percent of sales. HP fails to provide timelines for the complete elimination of toxic polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and all brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and therefore loses points. Panasonic 5.0 Panasonic moved up from 13th to 12th due in large to providing a list of products on the market that are free of PVC. They include DVD players and recorders, home cinemas, video players and lighting equipment. Panasonic has now committed to eliminating all uses of PVC in their products – starting with internal wiring, as this hampers recycling – and have set a timeline of 2011 for getting PVC out of its notebooks. But, on brominated flame retardants (BFRs), the company has yet to commit to their elimination in all products, although a timeline of 2011 has been set for getting BFRs out of notebooks and mobiles – a fraction of Panasonic's large product range. Panasonic scores poorly for its lack of support for Individual Producer Responsibility and its limited voluntary take-back programmes. Panasonic has yet to report on its recycling rate as a percentage of past sales. LG Electronics 4.3 LGE has tumbled further down the ranking from 12th to 13th – second to last. This descent is due in part to a penalty point for corporate double standards on Individual Producer Responsibility. While LGE's global website states that the company believes that the producer (not consumer) should be responsible for financing the waste management of its own brand products when they are discarded; in the US, LGE is part of a Coalition that has been opposing Producer Responsibility and lobbying for U.S. consumers to pay an Advanced Recycling Fee (ARF). On the positive side, LGE gains points for launching models of mobile phones free of brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and there is improvement in their voluntary product take back and recycling efforts. LGEhas yet to report on its recycling rate as a percentage of past sales. Sony 4.0 Sony has been free falling down the ranking and is now at the bottom. When the Guide was first launched the company was in 5th place. This is due in part to the penalty point for corporate double standards on Individual Producer Responsibility. Sony is a founding member of the European Recycling Platform which supports IPR; however, in the US, Sony is part of a Coalition that has been opposing Producer Responsibility and lobbying for U.S. consumers to pay an Advanced Recycling Fee (ARF). On chemicals, Sony has yet to provide timelines for eliminating PVC and BFRs from all their products. On the positive side, Sony scores well for having some models that are free of the worst chemicals on the market. Sony has yet to report on its recycling rate as a percentage of past sales. Sony loses a point on Individual Producer Responsibility (IPR) due to its double standards. Sony is a founding member of the European Recycling Platform which supports IPR; however, in the US, Sony is part of a Coalition that has been opposing Producer Responsibility and lobbying for U.S. consumers to pay an Advanced Recycling Fee (ARF). Ranking criteria explained The ranking criteria reflect the demands of the Toxic Tech campaign to the electronics companies. Our two demands are that companies should: - clean up their products by eliminating hazardous substances; - takeback and recycle their products responsibly once they become obsolete. The two issues are connected. The use of harmful chemicals in electronics prevents their safe recycling when the products are discarded. Companies scored marks out of 30 this has then been calculated to a mark out of 10 for simplicity. Each score is based solely on public information on the companies website. Companies found not to be following their published policies will be deducted penalty point in future versions of the guide. The fourth edition has been published on Greenpeace's web site. See the Full Report here (PDF).