null

Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics: How Green Are the World’s Top Electronics Manufacturers?

7th Jun 2020

Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics: How Green Are the World’s Top Electronics Manufacturers?

We love our electro-gadgets. Our smartphones, our smart TVs, our beloved laptops. But while electronics manufacturers increase profits with built-to-fail, disposable technology, the environment pays the price.

E-waste is a crisis that has already reached pandemic proportions and shows no sign of slowing. The price of our smartphones and budget electronics is being paid in ever-growing landfills filled with hazardous substances.

The problem with green electronics is the supply chain. This report suggests 80% of businesses don’t know where their raw materials come from or if they’re regulated in any way. While efforts have been made to better the situation in recent years, there is still a startling lack of transparency when it comes to the supply chain of electronics manufacturers.

Greenpeace used to publish an updated Guide to Greener Electronics which evaluated how well companies managed energy use, resource consumption, and chemical elimination. The Greenpeace Guide was published continuously from 2006-2012, with the last up coming in 2017. Since this report is one of the major studies in this topic and it has been published not so long ago, we decided to review it in detail and see how the world's leading electronics manufacturers are supporting the environment.

The Goal

The object of Greenpeace study is getting electronics manufacturers to eliminate hazardous substances, recycle their products responsibly, and reduce the climate impacts of their products and operations. In particular, chemicals like brominated flame retardants (BFRs) pose a health and safety risk to workers and people living in the area of manufacture. They also can’t be safely recycled.

The hope is that once consumers learn more about the environmental impact of electronics they will demand greener products from manufacturers.


How Electronics Manufacturers Scored

None of the electronics manufacturers we studied earned an A. Using the criteria of Greenpeace’s Green Electronics Guide — energy use, resource consumption, and chemical elimination — even the best in the business needs some work.

Source: Greenpeace


The Pretty Good

     

Fairphone

One of the best rated green electronic companies was a smaller phone manufacturer named Fairphone. 

Fairphone is very transparent about its supply chain, and the phone’s modular product design is geared to reduce its carbon footprint. Unlike most smartphones, Fairphones are repairable and upgradable. This greatly extends product life — and happily bucks current market trends.

Overall grade: B

Energy B Resources A- Chemicals B-


Apple

Apple's iPhone and the Apple computers also scored well on the Greenpeace report, especially for transparency and commitment to reducing its carbon footprint. Apple has also been aggressive about a goal of 100% renewable energy. Unfortunately the company fall short it is product zone. As everyone knows you can’t change the battery in an iPhone and getting it repaired is costly and usually not worth it. As a result Apple gets a D for product life extension.

Overall grade: B-

Energy A- Resources C Chemicals B


C Students

   

Dell

Dell computer, the third largest in PC sales, was given a C+ in green pieces report card. The company needs to push harder for renewable energy both for its operations and its supply chain. The company has got good marks for its transparency and performance, creating phones and business machines that are upgradable and repairable. The company needs to commit to a clean energy policy like Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Google.

Overall grade: C+

Energy C+ Resources B- Chemicals C+


HP

HP score of the C+ earning decent marks for its transparency and commitment to renewable energy well HPs performance and closing the materials loop leaves room for improvement each peach product design extends existing gadgets for longer life nobody falls a bit short and it’s hazardous chemicals elimination however.

Overall grade: C+

Energy B Resources B- Chemicals C+


Lenovo

Lenovo scores a C minus Lenovo only get to see on performance commitment and transparency to renewable energy and climate change failing to publish a list of suppliers to provide details on omissions in the supply chain more needs to be done. Lenovo has no public goals to close the production loop for specific targets for increased use of secondary materials across its product line and it has a very close loop commitment. The company scores a D on hazardous chemical illumination promising to phase out BFR and PVC but not establishing a concrete time timeline for doing so.

Overall grade: C-

Energy C Resources C Chemicals D


Microsoft

Microsoft scored a C-. The company has not expanded its hundred percent renewable commitment to his supply chain as Apple has done. Microsoft needs more than vague guidelines and non-deadline driven promises to reduce its carbon and greenhouse gas footprints.

Overall grade: C-

Energy D+ Resources D+ Chemicals C


Needs (Much) Improvement

   

Acer

Taiwanese manufacturer Acer scored a D+ with Greenpeace noting the company has failed to meet its commitment to phase out PVC and BFRs from products. Acer has yet to establish sustainable protocols for its supply chain chemicals and manufacturing process. Acer needs to make a better effort on it’s greenhouse gas footprint, as well as worker health and safety.

Overall grade: D+

Energy C- Resources C- Chemicals D


LG

While LG achieved lower greenhouse gas numbers, Greenpeace found the reduction was a result of LG outsourcing certain production chores to third-party suppliers who were not required to report hazardous chemical use. LG must establish measurable, actionable, goals and timelines to reduce resource and make inroads toward sustainable design. Greenpeace gave LG a D+ overall.

Overall grade: D+

Energy D Resources C- Chemicals D+


Sony

While Sony is a leader in electronics sales it is not a leader in environmental performance. Sony’s renewable energy target for 2020 is a paltry 5%. The company also fails to report important details about its supply chain and hazardous chemicals elimination. 

Overall score - D+

Energy C- Resources C- Chemicals D


Google

Google also scores a D+ lagging behind other big name electronics manufacturers in its effort to minimize its impact on the planet. Google needs to be much more aggressive in its commitment to renewable energy and the reduced use of hazardous chemicals.

Overall grade: D+

Energy C- Resources D Chemicals C-


Asus

Asus gets a solid D from Greenpeace for lacking transparency in its raw material supply chain and manufacturing process. Asus needs to do more to support circular production methods while restricting hazardous chemicals in its production.

Overall grade: D

Energy D Resources D Chemicals D+


Samsung

While Samsung is a big player in the field of consumer electronics, it scores low (D-) in the Greenpeace Report. Even though the company claims reducing its environmental impact is a top priority Samsung has not kept pace with other manufacturers to reduce its greenhouse gas footprint.

Overall grade: D-

Energy D Resources D Chemicals D-


Amazon

Amazon gets a big fat F, remaining one of the least transparent companies in the world in terms of environmental performance. Amazon provides a few details beyond what is legally required, including refusing to reveal the company’s greenhouse gas footprint, though the Greenpeace report notes Amazon recent commitment toward purchasing renewable energy.

Overall grade: F

Energy D Resources D- Chemicals F


Vivo

Vivo has emerged as one of the top five Chinese smartphone manufacturers but still scores an F on Greenpeace’s scorecard. According to Greenpeace, Vivo doesn’t even have basic information regarding its environmental performance or its sustainability efforts available to the public.

Overall grade: F

Energy F Resources F Chemicals F


Companies Not Included in Greenpeace Report

TCL

TLC Electronics is an upstart electronics company with a progressive view on environmental issues. TCL earned the EPA’s Gold Tier Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Electronics Award in 2019 for recycling the equivalent of 76,700 pounds of electronics daily. While details about TCL’s supply chain are murky, the company has committed to making 40% of its product packaging from recycled materials.

Panasonic

Panasonic makes several PVC-free and BFR-free products, but it needs to do more to remove these hazardous chemicals from its entire line. The company sits firmly in the middle of the pack on environmental safety and conservation. They’re not the worst, but they’re far from the best.

Brother

Brother earns high marks for the elimination of toxic substances, the use of recycled and recyclable materials, product longevity, energy efficiency, corporate performance and packaging, according to the Good Shopping Guide, though some details about the company’s supply chain are sketchy.

Canon

Canon is proud of industry surveys that give the company high marks on environmental management structure, resource recycling and measures against global warming. But the Green Shopping Guide says Canon only earns mid-level marks on the environment and supply chain transparency.

Xerox

According to The Recycler, Xerox scored 96 out of 100 for governance, social, and environmental responsibility. The company also publishes an annual report on corporate social responsibility but details of its supply chain and hazardous material use remain unclear.

How Things Are Different Today?

Things are slowly improving on the greener electronics front. Electronics manufacturers today are required to file more comprehensive supply chain reports, improving both human and environmental safety. Increased transparency requirements force precious metal suppliers to lessen their environmental impact while providing safer conditions for miners.

Overall, electronics manufacturers need to invest in green design, focusing not only on green manufacturing but end-of-product-life programs, like recycling, remanufacturing, and replacement parts. That’s the only way for these Greener Electronics grades to improve.