As technology companies jostle for attention at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Greenpeace's newest edition of the Guide to Greener Electronics cuts through the greenwash.
Apple, Sony Ericsson and Nokia lead the way for product ranges free of the worst hazardous substances with HP following their lead. Yesterday, HP added to its portfolio of products completely free of PVC vinyl plastic and brominated flame retardants (BFRs), releasing a desktop PC and a notebook series.
Samsung, Dell, Lenovo and LGE pick up penalty points in the Guide for failing to follow through on a promised phase-out of toxics in their products. The majority of the companies in the Guide had pledged to remove toxic PVC and BFRs(1) 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, Sony Ericsson and Nokia are winning this game and HP is catching up, but 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 Iza Kruszewska Greenpeace International toxics campaigner.
Sony Ericsson and Apple are already calling on EU institutions to support such a ban. Other big players like HP and Dell, who have remained silent so far, 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 1 April 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.
Sony is rewarded for its reported 17 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the period 2000-2008, with renewable energy now accounting for 8 per cent of the total energy purchased globally each year by the company, up from 2.5 per cent a year ago. It also gains for the reported use of 17,000 tons of recycled plastics annually in various products, representing 10 per cent of all plastics used in the 2008 financial year.
"Almost 90 per cent of this recycled plastic was post-consumer. In 2010, we should see significant developments, with products free of PVC and BFRs in the PC and TV markets," continued Kruszewska. "Any company failing to achieve this goal is taking a big gamble with its green reputation. On a positive note, it's good to see non-ranked companies beyond the PC and TV sectors, like Cisco, committing to eliminate these harmful substances."