A View from Brad King

Greenpeace Targets Worst Computer Makers

The organization’s “Guide to Greener Electronics” ranks Motorola and Apple computers among the worst for the environment.

  • August 28, 2006

Over the weekend, Greenpeace released a report that ranked personal and handheld computer makers “on their use of toxic chemicals and electronic waste” and the companies’ decisions to actively recycle their products in a safe manner.

The list was published to highlight the elevated levels of toxic “e-waste” being introduced to the environment, according to the organization. The hope is that this initial scorecard, and its follow-ups, will spur companies to focus on their failings.

If the scorecard is accurate, there are many shortfalls to overcome.

No computer maker ranked above a 7 on a scale of 0 to 10. Nokia and Dell were given 7s – still “barely acceptable” marks, for their separate decisions to both reduce the amount of toxic chemicals used in their respective systems and lay out a timeline for continued reductions. And three major manufacturers – Motorola, Lenovo, and Apple – drew “failing” grades.

Apple ranked 11 out of 15 and drew direct criticism from Greenpeace on its main page:

“It is disappointing to see Apple ranking so low in the overall guide. They are meant to be world leaders in design and marketing, they should also be world leaders in environmental innovation,” said [Iza] Kruszewska, [Greenpeace International toxics campaigner].

The activist organization took Apple to task, claiming the company does nothing to reduce toxic chemicals in its products and has shown little interest in recycling. The report says Apple “…fails to embrace the precautionary principle, withholds its full list of regulated substances, and provides no timelines for eliminating toxic polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs).”

Motorola, which shared the distinction of the lowest ranking with Lenovo, also received harsh criticism in the reports, which says, “although Motorola scores points for its chemicals management system, it recently backtracked on its commitment to eliminate polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs).”

Its likely that companies won’t take kindly to these rankings – particularly when Greenpeace targets some of them, such as it did with a fact sheet titled “Motorola hangs up on toxic clean up promise”.

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