Greenpeace: Sony Ericsson Most "Green" Electronics Company; Microsoft, Nintendo Take Last-Place Slots

Greenpeace's quarterly guide is meant to motivate electronics manufacturers into reducing toxic materials in their products, as well as to improve their recycling efforts.

Greenpeace, the environmental advocacy group, ranks Sony Ericsson as the most environmentally responsible electronics maker while slamming Microsoft and Nintendo for their poor e-waste management efforts as well as for high levels of toxic materials in their electronics products.

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On Monday Greenpeace released the sixth edition of its quarterly "Guide to Greener Electronics," in which it ranks 18 leading electronics manufacturers on their efforts to eliminate toxic substances from their products and other efforts to be environmentally responsible.

The Greenpeace guide considers manufacturers' efforts to curtail the use of materials such as vinyl plastics (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) from their products. It also examines the companies' other efforts, including various product takeback initiatives and discarded product recycling efforts. (The group's methodology and criteria are available on its website.)

The most recent edition of the group's ranking includes a number of new companies such as Phillips, Sharp, Nintendo and Microsoft, the market leaders in the television and game console spaces.

green electronics

London-based Mobile handset maker Sony Ericsson received the first-place ranking because it plans to have all BFRs removed from its products by the start of 2008, and also because all its handsets have been free of PVC plastic since 2006. However, the company was penalized because it provided inaccurate information to consumers regarding its handset recycling efforts. Greenpeace investigators found that product takeback programs advertised in Thailand, Russia, Argentina and India were nonexistent.

Companies that received low scores on the Green Scorecard provide little or no information on the toxic materials found within their electronics products, or such products contain uncommonly high levels of such materials, according to Greenpeace. Low scores can also be a result of a lack of effective product takeback and recycling efforts on the part of companies.

The rankings are based on publicly available information, as well as Greenpeace communications with the manufacturers about recycling and product takeback programs. Iza Kruszewska, toxics campaigner at Greenpeace International, said in a statement that Greenpeace will continue to check up on companies' "going green" claims.

The Greenpeace scorecard ranking is as follows:

  • Sony Ericsson, up from second place in the last edition of the guide

  • Samsung, up from eighth

  • Sony, up from sixth

  • Dell, down from third-place tie with Lenovo; Lenovo, down from third-place tie with Dell

  • Toshiba, up from 10th

  • LG Electronics, down from fifth

  • Fujitsu-Siemens, down from eighth

  • Nokia, down from the number-one slot

  • HP, up from 13th

  • Apple, up from the 12th-place tie with Acer

  • Acer, down from the 12th-place tie with Apple

  • Panasonic, up from 14th

  • Motorola, down from ninth place

  • Sharp, first time in the ranking

  • Microsoft, first time in the ranking

  • Phillips, first time in the ranking

  • Nintendo, first time in the ranking

Nokia, which has held one of the top two slots in all of Greenpeace's last five rankings, fell to ninth place, due in large part to "corporate misbehavior" related to its product takeback and recycling efforts. Greenpeace investigators found confusing information about such programs that were advertised on the Web for Thailand, the Philippines, Russia, Argentina and India. Nokia employees in these areas were also unaware of any such programs, according to Greenpeace. The Finnish company also lost points for poor reporting related to the amounts of discarded handsets it's recycling.

Also noteworthy is the fact that Microsoft, maker of the Xbox 360 gaming console, scored badly in the majority of Greenpeace's waste criteria, including the fact that all its gaming products included both PVC plastics and BFRs, and it doesn't currently offer any form of voluntary takeback program. Microsoft also reports on only the amounts of e-waste it recycles in Europe and not other regions of the world, according to the guide.

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Japan's Nintendo, maker of the Wii gaming system, received the lowest score possible in all hazardous materials removal and product recycling criteria--meaning it provides little or no information about the hazardous materials used within its product or about its recycling efforts--along with the last-place ranking overall.

Nintendo responded by saying it was surprised by the report and that it complies with all "relevant regulations," and that it had even created its own "Green Procurement Standard" for its suppliers according to SPOnG, a gaming website.

The Greener Electronics guide will be updated every three months, and firms' rankings will reflect their improvements--or lack thereof--in reducing the level of toxic substances used within their products and their recycling efforts.

The fifth edition of Greenpeace's Guide to Greener Electronics was released in September.

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