Greenpeace Guide Finds Most Electronics Companies Making Progress on Green Policies

The latest edition of the Greenpeace electronics guide, which ranks companies on their policies regarding chemicals and waste, places Chinese PC maker Lenovo in the top position, taking Nokia from the lead it had maintained since the guide was launched.

Electronic products manufacturers are beginning to jostle for top space on the Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics, an updated version of which was released on April 3. Competitive pressure, ongoing dialogue with Greenpeace campaigners and consumer expectations have driven an improvement in companies' scores since the December 2006 edition of the guide, with nine out of 14 companies now scoring more than five points out of 10.

Sony and LG Electronics receive penalty points for operating double standards on their e-waste take-back policies across the world, losing their places in the top five, Greenpeace officials stated. The latest edition of the Greenpeace guide states that Apple, having made no progress since the launch of the guide in August 2006, continues to languish in last place, far behind all other major manufacturers. Other companies in the top five include Nokia (second), Sony Ericsson (third) Dell (fourth) and Samsung (fifth).

"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 Iza Kruszewska, Greenpeace international toxics campaigner. "The challenge for the industry now is to see who will actually place greener products on the market."

Lenovo, which bought IBM's consumer electronics division in 2005, scores top marks on its e-waste policies and practice; the company offers take-back and recycling in all the countries where its products are sold. Lenovo also reports the amount of e-waste it recycles as a percentage of its sales. However, the company has yet to put on the market products that are free of the worst chemicals, Greenpeace stated.

Sony Ericsson has moved back up the guide (they were fifth in December 2006) as the first company to set a timeline of Jan. 1, 2008, for eliminating substances in addition to those banned by the European RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances in electronic products) Directive.

"With this edition of the guide, we're seeing some companies move beyond good statements of principle and towards real action, with the roll-out of voluntary take back programs and detailed information being provided to customers. But companies have to stay on the ball and progress in step with the market. Existing commitments from companies begin to look less impressive on this dynamic score card as their competitors raise the bar," Kruszewska stated.

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This article originally appeared in the 04/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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