Monday, October 15, 2007

Green Electronics Guide: how do companies address the e-waste problem?

Greenpeace has put together a consumer guide on how environmentally friendly various electronics companies are. Drawing attention to the serious and growing problem of discarded electronics (e-waste), it ranks the companies based on their use of toxic chemicals and their policies and practice around take-back and recycling of their products.

According to their latest update (9/07), Nokia leads the pack and Sony Ericsson is not far behind; both companies have stopped using some of the most hazardous chemicals (PVC plastics) and are in the process of phasing out others (BFR flame retardants). Both companies also support Individual Producer Responsibility (the concept that manufacturers should take back their electronics products and be responsible for their recycling and/or safe disposal) and have take-back policies in most countries where they sell products, but get dinged for a lack of information about how successful these policies are in practice.

The worst? Panasonic, HP, and Apple. All three have problems with take-backs and recycling; plus, Panasonic has no timeline to phase out the chemicals, while HP is planning to get rid of them in some components (internal wiring) but not others.

The full list:

  • Nokia: 8 (of 10)
  • Sony Ericsson: 7.7
  • Dell: 7.3
  • Levono: 7.3
  • LGE: 7
  • Fujitsu Siemens: 7
  • Samsung: 6.7
  • Motorola: 6.7
  • Toshiba: 6
  • Acer: 5.7
  • Apple: 5.3
  • Hewlett Packard: 5.3
  • Panasonic: 5
You can read the whole report here(PDF), with more details about what each company is and isn't doing. If you're an Apple customer, send an e-mail to Steve Jobs to ask him to do more.

Does this sort of information affect what electronics you buy? I'd like to try to keep it in mind next time I'm shopping for them. But the biggest thing I'm taking out of this report is how much of a problem the e-waste from discarded electronics really is, and it strengthens my intention to get the very most out of my devices before I buy new ones.

(This is my post for Blog Action Day 2007!)

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