Our latest and greatest guide to greener electronics

Feature Story - 2010-01-21
Apple, Sony Ericsson and Nokia do well in our updated Guide to Greener Electronics, while Chinese computer maker Lenovo, Samsung, Dell, and LGE disappoint.

Green Electronics Guide

Welcome to the 14th edition of Greenpeace's Guide to Greener Electronics.

Our latest research shows that Apple, Sony Ericsson and Nokia lead the way for product ranges free of the worst hazardous substances with HP following their lead.

HP has just released the Compaq 8000f Elite business desktop, its first completely PVC and BFR free product.

Meanwhile Samsung, Dell, Chinese company Lenovo and LG Electronics (LGE) pick up penalty points in the Guide for failing to follow through on a promised phase-out of toxics in their products.

Most of the companies in our ranking guide had pledged to remove toxic PVC (vinyl) plastic and BFRs from their product range by the end of 2009.

But, for now, it's a no show for these companies, who have delayed their phase-out to 2011 or beyond.

What the scores mean

Nokia leads the ranking, with a score of 7.3 out of 10.

Sony Ericsson follows closely, and is the only company to score full marks on all the toxic chemicals criteria.

In third place is Toshiba, but it risks losing points if it fails to meet its commitment to market new models of all its consumer electronics products that are free of PVC and BFRs by 1 April 2010.

Philips comes in fourth place, while Apple rises from ninth place to fifth.

Nintendo continues to languish at the bottom of the ranking.

Sony is rewarded for its reported 17 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the period 2000-2008, with renewable energy now accounting for 8 percent of the total energy purchased globally each year by the company, up from 2.5 percent a year ago.

It also gains for the reported use of 17,000 tons of recycled plastics annually in various products, representing 10 percent of all plastics used in the 2008 financial year.

Almost 90 percent of this recycled plastic was post-consumer.

Samsung drops dramatically from second place to a tied seventh place for failing to eliminate BFRs in all its products by January 2010. With only its latest models of mobile phones free of toxic substances, it has set January 2011 as the deadline for eliminating them from new models of its notebooks and still has no definitive timeline for removing them from its TVs and household appliances.

What's so toxic about electronics?

PVC contaminates humans and the environment throughout its lifecycle; during its production, use, and disposal it is the single most environmentally damaging of all plastics, and can form dioxin, a known carcinogen, when burned.

Some BFRs are highly resistant to degradation in the environment and are able to build up in animals and humans.

With the growth of electronic waste, workers who deal with e-waste and the wider community are exposed to significant health risks.

Burning of e-waste to recover valuable resources, as routinely takes place in the backyards of China, India and much of the global South, can form dioxins.

Eliminating the substances will decrease exposure and increase the recyclability and reusability of electronic products.