Greenpeace Ranks Apple Highest Among Tech Companies: Whaaaaa?

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Given their long and storied feud, you would think Captain Ahab would have a better chance than Apple of being accepted by Greenpeace. Believe it or not, the impossible has actually happened.

Indeed, Greenpeace has ranked Apple highest on the list of eco-conscious tech companies. In fact, they got a perfect score thanks to their commitment to eliminate all toxic PVC and BFRs from their product line. Has Apple finally got the Greenpeace endangered species-protected monkey off its back?

January 7, 2010

Greenpeace's Electronics Guide cuts through the greenwash at CES

Apple, Sony Ericsson and Nokia products free of worst hazardous substances – Samsung, Dell, Lenovo and LGE disappoint

LAS VEGAS - As technology companies jostle for attention at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) , Greenpeace's newest edition of the Guide to Greener Electronics, released at CES, cuts through the greenwash. Apple, Sony Ericsson, and Nokia lead the way for introducing products free of the worst hazardous substances with HP following just behind.

Samsung, Dell, Lenovo, and LGE pick up penalty points in the Guide (1) for failing to follow through on a promised phase-out of toxic chemicals in their products. The majority of the companies in the Guide had pledged to remove toxic PVC vinyl plastic and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) (2) from their product range by the end of 2009, which would have meant a greater show of greener, toxic-free products for visitors to preview at the CES. But, for now, it's a no show for these companies, who have delayed their phase-out to 2011 or beyond.

"It's time for a little less conversation and a lot more action on removing toxic chemicals," said Casey Harrell, Greenpeace International Electronics campaigner. "Apple is leading and HP is playing catch up, but the lack of action from other companies is ensuring that customers and the environment are still losing out."

Several companies see their scores reduced in this edition of the Guide, with the bar being raised on hazardous substances. Having endorsed the precautionary principle, companies now need to actively support bans on PVC, BFRs and chlorinated flame retardants (CFRs) during the revision of the European Union‘s Restriction of Hazardous Substances in Electronics Directive.

"Companies need to support legislative bans to ensure a consistent phase out of PVC and BFRs across all electronic products," said Casey Harrell, Greenpeace International toxics campaigner. "Sony Ericsson and Apple are already calling on EU institutions to support such a ban. Other big players, such as HP and Dell – who have so far been silent - and Acer, need to ensure the ban is passed in the European Union parliament."

Nokia leads the ranking with a score of 7.3. 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 April 1, 2010. Philips comes in fourth place, while Apple rises from ninth place to fifth.

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. Nintendo continues to languish at the bottom of the ranking.

"In 2010, we should see significant developments, with products free of PVC and BFRs in the PC and TV markets," continued Harrell. "Any company failing to achieve this goal is taking a big gamble with its green reputation. More positively, it's good to see non-ranked companies beyond the PC and TV sectors, like Cisco (3), committing to eliminate these harmful substances."