Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Greener Electronics – Major companies fail to show climate leadership

Manila, PHILIPPINES — The latest edition of our Guide to Greener Electronics has revealed that very few firms are showing true climate leadership. Despite many green claims, major companies like Dell, Microsoft, Lenovo, LG, Samsung and Apple are failing to support the necessary levels of global cuts in emissions and make the absolute cuts in their own emissions that are required to tackle climate change.

A pile of electronic waste on a roadside in Guiyu.

The electronics industry needs to face up to the problem of e-waste and recycling and take on the challenge of climate leadership.

With world governments discussing a vital global deal on emission cuts this December in Poznan and concluding in Copenhagen at the end of 2009, it's time electronics companies showed climate leadership in two vital areas now – giving their high profile support to the levels of global emissions cuts we need to tackle climate change and showing it can be done by making absolute cuts in their own emissions.

Of the 18 market-leading companies included in the Guide, only Sharp, Fujitsu Siemens and Philips show full support for the necessary cuts of 30 percent for industrial nations by 2020. Only HP and Philips have made commitments to make substantial cuts in their own emissions. All the other companies in the Guide make vague or essentially meaningless statements about global emissions reductions and have no plans to make absolute emissions cuts themselves. With the need for deep emission cuts becoming ever more urgent it's vital big companies support a global deal and take effective measures now to reduce their overall emissions.

The Guide to Greener Electronics is our way of getting the electronics industry to take responsibility for the entire lifecycle of its products. We want it to face up to the problem of e-waste and take on the challenge of tackling climate change.

First launched in August 2006, the Guide ranks the leaders of the mobile phone, computer, TV and games console markets according to their policies and practices on toxic chemicals, recycling and energy. Since June 2008, the Guide has ranked companies on five climate and energy criteria. In this current edition we're focussing on climate leadership - not only because the global climate needs it but because electronics firms have a big role to play in the low-carbon economy of the future.

Our Toxics Campaigner Beau Baconguis, sees a missed opportunity: "It is disappointing that such innovative and fast-changing companies are moving so slowly, when they could be turning the regulation we need on global emissions into a golden business opportunity."

Shop green!

Filipinos buy more electronic products during the holiday season. Each year-end, malls and shops are flooded with the newest models of laptops, cell-phones, game consoles, televisions sets, etc, at discounted or zero-interest prices. But how do we know if what we’re buying is “green”? Here are some tips:

  1. Research before you buy the product
  2. Check if the product is RoHS compliant
  3. Look for the Energy Star, or TCO certification
  4. Find out if the company has take-back programs in your country
  5. Find out if the company has repair centers in your country
  6. Buy products whose parts are upgradeable and replaceable
  7. Buy products that are durable and made to last
  8. Think twice before buying.

Click here to download Our Holiday Guide to Green Electronics

The low carbon future

To achieve a significant reduction in emissions we'll need measures such as much more efficient transport networks, smarter power grids and home appliances, sweeping improvements to manufacturing efficiency and buildings that use far less energy. In all these areas, electronics are vital in achieving these improvements.

Taking into account all criteria in the Guide, Nokia remains top, Toshiba makes a big improvement to 3rd place and Sharp and Motorola make big jumps up the ranking. The big PC companies such as Dell, HP, Apple and Acer drop down. Dell continues to be overtaken by other companies, with an unchanged score of 4.7. Although Apple drops a place, it improves its overall score slightly to 4.3, with much better reporting on the carbon footprint of its products. Apple has also recently show leadership on removing the worst toxics substances with new iPods free of toxics brominated flame retardants and PVC. All Apple products should be free of these substances by the end of 2008, which will challenge other PC makers to follow their lead.

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