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Apple has got dirtier, Greenpeace says

Greenpeace has just published its quarterly Guide to Greener Electronics and, on the surface, it looks pretty bad for Apple.

The guide ranks the 18 top manufacturers of personal computers, mobile phones, TVs and games consoles 'according to their policies on toxic chemicals, recycling and climate change'.

It's important to point out the word 'policies' in the tree-hugging outfit's mission statement, as the rankings are based on publicly-available information. In other words, the Greenpeace (s)hit list is based entirely on what the PR departments of the companies included say they are going to do. Lets' face it, anyone can talk a good green policy.

The fact that the entire metric of list is based on public disclosure makes a bit of a mockery of the whole exercise in our book, Apple being a compelling case in point.

The notoriously-secretive gadget maker has dropped five places in the current rankings, despite having scored and identical 4.9 out of ten since the last outing.

Apple gets a big green tick when it comes to toxic chemicals with all products now free of PVC and brominated fire retardants (BFR). But the company's refusal to supply information about some of the materials it uses and its supply-chain communications continues to irk Greenpeace which seems to think it has a god-given right to know everything the Cupertino company is planning in the future.

Apple's self-perpetuating media manipulation machine is fuelled by the very fact that no-one really knows what the company is planning to do, which in a way makes its reticence understandable. Being labelled environmentally unfriendly because your green credentials are based on you actions and products rather than your published intentions (whether they turn out to be credible or otherwise) seems a little unfair to us.

Mobile phone maker Nokia retains the top spot in the list of 18 having scored highly on toxic chemical and energy use. All of its products have been free of PVC since 2005 and and all 2010 models of mobile phones and accessories are 'on track' to be free of brominated compounds, chlorinated flame retardants (CFR) and antimony trioxide.

The Finnish company was docked points for failing to come up to scratch on the RoHS 2.0 (Restriction of Hazardous Substances in electronics) Directive, as it does not openly support restrictions on at least PVC, CFRs and BFRs in the next three to five years.

Sony Ericsson and Philips have retained their second and third places, again with identical scores of 6.9 and 5.5 repsectively.

HP is one of the biggest climbers in the list climbing from 8th to 4th (5.5 points) as a result of its progress in bringing products that are free from PVC and BFRs onto the market and a new commitment to phase out beryllium and compounds by July 2011.

Samsung has also jumped from 13th place to 5th with 5.3 points as a result of one of its penalty points being lifted and improvements in its score on chemicals. It still has a black mark for backtracking on the reduction of BFRs and PVC, which brings us back to our point about the difference between intentions and actions.

Everyone else on the list has shuffeld about a couple of places as follows:

Sony, Motorola and Panasonic joint 6th (5.1 points)
Apple 9th (4.9 points)
Dell 10th (4.9 points. It's not clear why it's not joint 9th)
Sharp 11th (4.7 points)
Acer 12th (4.1 points)
Fujitsu 13th (3.9 points)
LG Electronics and Lenovo joint 14th (3.5 points)
Toshiba 16th (2.3 points)
Microsoft 17th (1.9 points)
Nintendo 18th (1.9 points)

Microsoft has recently backtracked on a commitment to phase out PVC and BFRs by the end of 2010 and has no products at all which are free of these dangerous substances.

Nintendo apparently refuses to play Greenpeace's game and has to sit at the back of the class with its hands on its head. monitors all leading technology stories and rounds them up to help you save time hunting them down.