Greenpeace Releases Green Electronics Guide

Greenpeace released the seventeenth version of  its Guide to Greener Electronics today. It has seen many changes over the years. Greenpeace didn’t release a guide last year, making this release eagerly anticipated. Several new criteria have been included in this edition. The Guide rates companies on a scale of 1-10 and puts them them in a green, yellow or red zone depending on their performance. The current version features fifteen top companies that have global market share in key consumer electronics categories.

Highlights from the Guide 

  • RIM has been added to the guide for the first time ever. Although it does have one of the lowest overall scores, it has scored well on conflict minerals sourcing and sustainable paper policy.
  • Motorola has been dropped out as it has now been acquired by Google.
  • HP scores the highest with a score of 5.9, only slightly better than their previous score of 5.5.
  • Nokia which was the top scorer for three years has fallen back to third place with a score below 5 .
  • Companies that are doing the best job when it comes to e-waste regulation through their take-back programs are Nokia and Apple.
  • HP, Dell, Nokia, Apple lead the way by innovative cradle-to-cradle design, use of less toxics as well as use of eco-friendly material in their products.

Latest Guide Includes Stricter Sustainability Criteria

Before the launch, I spoke to one of the authors, Casey Harrell, to get a basic run-down of the added features in the Guide. Compared to the previous edition, there has been a general downswing in sustainability performance and Casey commented that:

“There are two main reasons for the general slight back-tick in scores: one, we added new criteria to this version and generally speaking, companies did not perform (across the board) as well on these criteria as they did on some of the traditional ones. New criteria included embedded energy in the supply chain, conflict metals, paper policy, and life cycle questions. Generally, my take on this, since we added new criteria once before (version 8 in 2008) is that it take a few iterations of the Guide to see companies begin to perform better on new criteria.

The second reason is that we toughen the score totals on a few existing criteria. In previous guides, all or most companies were scoring top marks on a few questions. We needed to make our scoring tougher to still differentiate performance — this is generally a good sign that companies have moved in the right direction. You’ll see this in questions like e-waste take back programs (where we combined a few criteria questions and made scoring slightly tougher) and the question on reducing GHG emissions.”

The Rankings

HP takes the top spot because it scored strongly when it came to measuring and reducing carbon emissions from its supply chain. Dell is in second position for having the most ambitious climate target, with plans to reduce its emissions 40 percent by 2020. They also have a strong policy on sustainable paper sourcing.

Nokia, along with many other companies, lost their top scoring position due to weaker performance on energy. Now that many companies are aware of hazardous substances, Greenpeace is now urging them to examine key supply chain issues. The Guide has a new energy section that focuses solely on how companies can lead the way by reducing their own energy use as well as influencing clean energy legislation.

Greenpeace’s IT Campaigns

In the previous years, Greenpeace has worked extensively with companies to phase out hazardous substances. The Green my Apple Campaign is probably the most notable one. Now they are challenging companies to improve on their supply chains especially sourcing of minerals, energy use and other issues. The Guide is only a small part of Greenpeace’s efforts to make the IT industry more sustainable.

Targeting Facebook for powering its datacenters with electricity sourced from coal is one of its other notable campaigns in the sector. This is part of ensuring that datacenters are more sustainable. According to their data if the ‘cloud’ was a country, it would be the fifth largest in electricity consumption.

In January Greenpeace released their green products guide which focused on individual products. Apart from engaging with companies, Greenpeace also encourages consumer awareness towards a more sustainable future.

Image Credit: Greenpeace © Guide to Greener Electronics, version 17. 

Acknowledgement: Thanks to Casey Harrell, Greenpeace International and Shayna Samuels, Ripple Strategies. 

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also

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