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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69 Comments

  1. Hey @Reality Check, if you want a real reality check then read Patrick Moore’s article in my last post. Greenpeace and other environmentalist organisations that use sensationalism and emotion as their M.O. do more harm than good. That’s why he got out. And he was one of the founders of Greenpeace.

    And to base your study of electronic companies soley on their published future environmental plans is a cheap shot. If you don’t publish you get a bad score but that score has no basis in reality.

  2. Hey @Reality Check, if you want a real reality check then read Patrick Moore’s article in my last post. Greenpeace and other environmentalist organisations that use sensationalism and emotion as their M.O. do more harm than good. That’s why he got out. And he was one of the founders of Greenpeace.

    And to base your study of electronic companies solely on their published future environmental plans is a cheap shot. If you don’t publish you get a bad score but that score has no basis in reality.

  3. The reason why greenpeace ought to be opposed is because of one simple fact – they are anti-human! It’s not about making the world a ‘happier, greener place’, it’s about reverting the planet either to when men lived in caves, or eradicating the human species altogether.

    And for that reason, none of their rantings or ‘findings’ should be taken seriously, in any shape or form.

    If you love your Apple computer, your car, your central heating, your air conditioning, your local wal mart, your iPhone…

    Luddites and th Amish need not apply.

  4. @ Jelly Bean

    Why is it you automatically assume that by drilling for more oil we have a higher standard of living? Why not find some other way to get power?

    If tomorrow this President issued a national directive stating that in the interests of national security, 25% of all passenger cars purchased by the federal govt in 2009, 50% in 2010 and 75% in 2011, must be at least hybrid-electric, and must be manufactured by domestic auto makers, and 25% must be full electric in 2010, 50% in 2011.

    That helps us in national security (reduce demand on foreign countries) and helps domestic corporations (GM, Ford, Chrylser and whoever is the next auto maker…

    Oh yeah, it also helps my kids and the environment as well.

  5. Please DO NOT put Wal-Mart on the same level as Apple. Wal-Mart is destroying not only the environment, but our economy as well by selling cheap crap made with exploited labor that doesn’t last to people who think they’re getting a deal.

  6. Mankind is producing more and more plant food while destroying more and more plants.

    Perhaps it’s time for a two pronged approach. Let’s slow the rate of increase in plant food production and replant some of the biggest plant food eaters.

    Let’s replant the tropical rain forests and practice some birth control to cut back the population pressures in the underdeveloped world.

    All we have to do is use more mass transit and get Catholic and Muslim leaders’ heads around birth control.

    That is two things Communist countries were good at, mass transit and birth control.

    Good luck with controlling population and personal freedoms in democratic countries.

    When it comes right down to it, real men don’t care about global warming. The just want to jump in their vehicle and look for someone to fcuk.

  7. MDN: Your headline for this article is misleading. The critical point here is Apple’s RANKING, which has NOT CHANGED.

    As for Greenpeace: I like that they are around and attempting to set some standards and goals, however fumblingly.

    But as a biologist (among other things) I have to point out that Greenpeace still justifiably suffer from lots of GAS with still insubstantial solidity. IOW if they are to attain the high regard they are trying to attain, they need to base their mouth utterances upon solid science. They are required to have scientists running the show, not loony fringe ‘liberal’ (ooo, that evil word!) marketing moron types. Blethering and foaming without actual substance backing up your words does nothing but feed the Neo-Con-Job’s scam claims that all things ‘Green’ are vacuous, ‘expensive’ (to corporate rule), hair-brained, economically dangerous and communist/unpatriotic.

    The more seriously substantial the EXPERTISE of Greenpeace, the fewer alarmist-manic-big-mouth-blowhards, the more successful our hopefully Green future will be.

    Conclusion: Get serious Greenpeace. Skip playing politics all together. Stick to the facts. Use FACTS as your selling point. Get EXPERTS to present the facts and make the case for Green. Knowledge is power. Ranting is only gas.

  8. I think it’s wonderful that someone of the use of toxic chemicals, recycling, energy consumption in the tech. industry. If Greenpeace weren’t doing this, nobody would even be talking about it now. If you don’t like it, go back to reading the WSJ and playing with your Mac as if nothing mattered — all the anti-Greenpeace posts here are classic cases of denial: people are threatened, and rather than think about changing their own behavior, they just vilify the messenger.

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