Apple’s score plummets as Greenpeace expands ranking criteria in its Guide to Greener Electronics

Out of the 18 electronics companies evaluated in the 8th edition of Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics, only two companies – Sony Ericsson and Sony – score above 5/10. The overall score of the ranked companies has plummeted as Greenpeace tightens requirements on electronic waste (e-waste) and toxic chemicals, and adds new requirements for evaluating companies’ impact on climate change.

The newly-added energy criteria (1) require companies to show their political support for global mandatory cuts in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the post Kyoto political process. Companies must also commit to absolute reductions in GHG emissions from their own operations. Most companies take a limited view of this by only focusing on the energy efficiency of their products (2) rather than including the production process. The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector currently accounts for 2% of global GHG emissions (3), equal to the aviation industry. As one of the most innovative and fastest growing industries, Greenpeace expects the sector to take leadership in tackling climate change by reducing both their direct and indirect climate carbon footprint.

Apple again comes in at 11th position scoring 4.1 points (down from 6.0 points in Greenpeace’s last report in December 2007), mainly due to putting products on the market whose key components are free of brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and PVC vinyl plastic. For example, all new models of iMac and the MacBook Air have bromine-free casings and printed circuit board laminates as well as PVC-free internal cables. Millions of iPods now have bromine-free enclosures and printed circuit board laminates. The MacBook Air also has mercury free LCD display with arsenic-free glass. MacBook Pros come with mercury-free LED backlit displays. Apple scores poorly on most e-waste criteria, except for reporting a recycling rate in 2006 of 9.5% as a percentage of sales 7 years ago. It does only slightly better on energy criteria, failing to score on all criteria except energy efficiency of products, where it scores top marks (doubled) for all desktops computers, portable PCs and displays complying with Energy Star 4.0 and their iPod and iPhone power adapters not only exceeding the Energy Star standard, but already meeting California’s stricter efficiency regulations that take effect 1 July 2008.

“Electronics giants pay attention to environmental performance on certain issues, while ignoring others that are just as important. Philips, for example, scores well on chemicals and energy criteria, but scores a zero on e-waste since it has no global take-back polices,” said Iza Kruszewska, Greenpeace International Toxics Campaigner, in the press release. “Philips would score higher if it took responsibility for its own branded e-waste and established equitable global take-back schemes.”

Many companies score well on energy efficiency as their products comply and exceed Energy Star standards (4). The best performers on energy efficiency are Sony Ericsson and Apple, with all of their models meeting, and many exceeding, Energy Star requirements. Sony Ericsson stands out as the first company to score almost top marks on all of the chemicals criteria (3). With all new Sony Ericsson models being PVC-free, the company has also met the new chemicals criterion in the ranking, having already banned antimony, beryllium and phthalates from models launched since January 2008.

“Greenpeace aims to show which companies are serious about becoming environmental leaders. We want them to race towards meeting the new criteria: phasing out other toxic chemicals, increasing the recycling rate of e-waste, using recycled materials in new products and reducing their impact on climate change,” concluded Iza Kruszewska.

More info here.

69 Comments

  1. They always seem to ignore how long people use their electronic equipment. If I buy one Apple computer in the same time that someone else needs two Dells, shouldn’t the amount of chemicals be half that of a Dell?

Leave a Reply to megaME Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.