When people think about which products have the biggest impact on the planet, they likely think of large machines and cars. However, they really should be thinking about electronics, and so should the manufacturers who are making those electronics. It turns out that some are doing a good job but many have not earned top marks in terms of environmental efforts.
That’s Greenpeace’s contention in adopting Re-Think IT as the name of its “campaign to challenge the IT sector to take responsibility for its rapidly growing footprint on the planet.” Greenpeace points out that the devices we think of as defining are modern age often are produced through “supply chain and manufacturing processes” that are no better than those applied in the Victorian period.
Accordingly, it is issuing a challenge to that industry to live up to its progressive image in improving the production and use of electronic components. That extends to containing “the ever-increasing consumption of the planet’s finite resources and reliance on fossil fuels” and to promoting “a circular and renewably powered business model that other sectors can follow.”
In order to give credit to those who do and point out the shortcomings of those who do not, Greenpeace has been releasing annual reports on major electronic companies. It just released its Guide to Greener Electronics 2017, which looks at 17 companies, including the top names in electronics like Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Google.
Chart courtesy: Greenpeace
The three key categories at the core of the rankings are:
- Energy: Reduction of greenhouse gases through efficiency and renewable energy
- Resource Consumption: sustainable design and use of recycled materials
- Chemicals: Elimination of hazardous chemicals from both the product itself and manufacturing
Companies can earn or lose points for advocacy, as the report explains. That includes pushing for green policies, for utilities to put more into renewables, and for companies in their supply chain to opt for greener energy sources, as well as for “greater transparency on chemical use, hazardous chemical elimination and substitution at all levels of government and within the sector.” Advocating for recycling or as it called it, a push to “support the reduction of virgin material resources,” as well as and incentives for repairable designs also went into account.
Conversely, there is a penalty in the ranking assigned to those countering that form of progress. That include any who “have lobbied against renewable energy or climate policies” or “against stronger standards or legislation to eliminate the use of hazardous” or “against repair or recycling legislation or standards” within “the past 18 months, either directly or through their membership in an industry association.”
The particular formula breakdown is given as follows: “Transparency (30%), Commitment (30%), Performance (30%), and Advocacy (10%).” On this basis, a holistic grade is assigned to each company. None of them earned an overall A or even a B+.