By Dan Shapley
Greenpeace has released its annual
Guide to Greener Electronics, which rates electronics manufacturers on their record of reducing the use of toxic materials, recycling and reducing their contributions to global warming.
There's been increasing pressure on companies to stop using toxic metals and plastics, to institute take-back programs (more common in Europe than the U.S.) for used electronics and to increase energy efficiency of their factories and devices, so that they draw less electricity from the coal-fired power plants that help fuel global warming.
Keep in mind that these are international ratings.
Here's a look at the results, graphically:
And here's a ranking of the companies, from greenest to least green:
Nokia - 6.9
Despite dropping from its previous score of 7.0, Nokia remains the leader in the industry because of its cell phone take-back program, its energy-efficient cell phone chargers, its purchase of 25% renewable energy, its PVC-free models, and its pledge to reduce the use of brominated flame retardants and antimony trioxide by the end of 2009.
Sony Ericsson - 5.9
Sony Ericsson improved its standing by announcing a new take-back program that promises to recycle individual products regardless of location. It scores better than all other companies for reducing hazardous chemicals, produces energy-efficient products and reports its carbon dioxide emissions publicly.
Toshiba - 5.9
Toshiba's improving the energy efficiency of its computers, buys renewable energy, supports global policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while reporting its own pollution, and has reduced its use of hazardous materials. However, it doesn't have a comprehensive recycling program.
Samsung - 5.9
Samsung, the world's largest supplier of LCD screens, made a huge impact by phasing out the use of PVC, has reduced or eliminated the use of other hazardous chemicals, makes energy-efficient battery chargers and cell phones and now reports its carbon dioxide emissions from major manufacturing plants in South Korea. Its downfall is its recycling program.
Fujitsu Siemens - 5.7
Fujitsu Siemens uses renewable energy and supports global greenhouse gas emissions limits and makes a range of energy-efficient and low-toxic products. But it has a recycling take-back program only in South Africa.
LG Electronics - 5.7
LG has improved the energy efficiency of its products and has reduced or pledged to reduce toxic chemical usage, and has launched a recycling take-back program in the U.S.
Motorola - 5.3
Motorola has pledged to reduce the use of PVC and brominated flame retardants after 2010, makes about half of its energy power adapters energy-efficient, has committed to cutting its own greenhouse gas emissions and to using renewable energy, and has a global take-back program for recycling.
Sony - 5.3
Sony has reduced or eliminated the use of hazardous chemicals, has a voluntary take-back program for recycling, reports its own greenhouse gas emissions and uses some renewable energy.
Panasonic - 5.1
Panasonic's cellphone chargers and televisions are increasingly energy efficient, reports its greenhouse gas emissions and has reduced or eliminated the use of hazardous chemicals, but without committing to eliminating PVC or brominated flame retardants. Panasonic doesn't score well on recycling programs because its take-back program doesn't cover all products.
Sharp - 4.9
Sharp has committed to reducing its use of hazardous substances, supports global greenhouse gas emissions cuts, reports its own emissions and buys renewable energy, but doesn't report energy efficiency data.
The following companies scored at the bottom of the list:
Acer - 4.7
Dell - 4.7
HP - 4.5
Apple - 4.3
Philips - 4.1
Lenovo - 3.7
Microsoft - 2.9
Nintendo - 0.8
For details about each, go to the Greenpeace
Guide to Greener Electronics.