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.

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  1. The Great Apple Fanboy Massacre:

    “…maybe, just MAYBE, the rest of the human race will start taking you seriously rather than consider you guys the pathetic joke that you are”

    You’re the one registering as “The Great Apple Fanboy Massacre:” and taking time out of your day to post (a lot) on a pro-Apple site, just to take the piss out of Mac users.

    Pathetic joke? Physician, heal thyself.

  2. I don’t understand where Greenpeace are coming from. They should be awarding Apple as a company that is truly saving the planet and not worried about a few toxic chemicals in an ipod.

    The reason is that Apple has so far sold 5 Billion songs and so many hundred million movies, millions of Audiobooks and the latest in TV shows, An average CD has 10 songs so we have 500 million cd’s that didn’t have to be pressed – 500 million Jewel cases and 500 million booklets with all the toxic chemicals that make ink and printing. The trees saved from the paper – the machines that didn’t have to run to make these disks multiply that with the movies and the TV shows and Apple has made the world a far greener place than they are getting credit for.

    Greenpeace should be rewarding and encouraging Apple and similar companies because it’s technology and nothing else that is going to take us out of the mess we are in and everytime Apple works out how to do things smaller with their R and D they save the planet a little bit more.

    I have always admired and supported Greenpeace for the risks they take and the bravery of their people up against the factory ships etc. However I don’t understand why no one is balancing the books by realising how Apple etc are leading possibly the most important industry in saving on all the other manufacturing of CD’s etc. Apple and similar companies are pushing for a better world and achieving it. We will not be saved by wearing Jesus sandals, eating ryvita, hand knitting our sweaters and hugging trees.

    Greenpeace you are beginning to lose my support – go and save the Amazon rainforests and the things you are good at – or is this a second generation of Greenpeace that don’t take active duty they pontificate and pick on large corporates rather than get their hands dirty

  3. Measuring the amount of products sold by company 7 years ago and returned to that company for the company to recycle is stupid. Apple has free recycling for its products, but how many 7 year old Macs are still in use or simply in someone’s closet?

    I donate old Macs which I’m not going to use anymore to schools, churches, etc. If the computer component is not usable any more, I recycle it, but I don’t mail it back to Apple 7 years later for Apple to recycle.

    Anyone have a 7 year old VCR they want to mail to Phillips for recycling? The postage will cost you more than buying a new VCR, and you’ll have to find a cardboard box, packing materials, non-recyclable clear packing tape, and use fuel for delivery vehicles just to get it to Phillips. Recycling locally saves resources and helps your local small business recycler, who’s trying to keep his business running.

    What a stupid report that measures virtually nothing.

  4. I think companies would score higher on greenpeace’s card if the companies products gave consumers a fast acting non treatable cancer and reduced the population of all the unnatural humans on the planet.

    These sort of scores – while commendable – are not likely to mean anything clear in the wider community.
    Where is the score that apple users are likely to be more intelligent that PC users and regardless of greenpeace actually care about their environment?

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