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Greenpeace: Electronics Supply Chain Is Still Dirty

The electronics supply chain is still heavily dependent on carbon-based energy in its manufacturing processes, especially in south East Asia. Companies in the sector should do more to end the use of environmentally damaging power products, according to Greenpeace, which also nominated India's {complink 8965|Wipro Ltd.} as No. 1 in commitment to eliminate greenhouse gas.

In its latest and 18th Guide to Greener Electronics report the environmental activist organization slammed electronics companies for failing to reduce the carbon footprint of their manufacturing processes and said the majority of companies in the sector “are still too heavily dependent on dirty energy sources that are contributing to climate change.”

Greenpeace commended 16 leading electronic companies for taking actions to cut the presence of toxic chemicals in many of their products, including mobile phones, computers, and tablets. Many of the reduced use of toxic materials observed by Greenpeace, however, were mandated by governments and regulatory bodies in Western nations and include the EU's Restriction of Hazardous Substances in electrical and electronic equipment, otherwise known as RoHS, and the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment directive, WEEE. These regulations have strict penalties for companies failing to comply with their terms, including the possible exclusion of such products from the European market.

This marks a clear difference with energy and power regulations. Energy generation is often the preserve of governments and sometimes loosely regulated private companies and electronic companies may not be able to influence the production and distribution processes. They are able, however, to more tightly control or reduce usage at their plants as well as cut the overall carbon footprint of their operations and those of suppliers by installing energy efficient products. Greenpeace believes the biggest electronic companies, because of their size, can also influence governments and energy producers to use fewer pollutants in power generation. It added further in the introduction to the report:

…most companies have yet to meaningfully engage in the political process to create the ambitious action we need to make the greenest electronics and prevent the most devastating climate change impacts. With the right consumer pressure placed on these issues, companies can focus attention on these issues of waste and dirty energy and build on the considerable progress already made in greening the sector, innovating beyond what even we think is possible now and creating an electronics market that is leading the economy toward a greener future.

Greenpeace also released its ranking of the Guide to Greener Electronics, which features top electronic companies that have made efforts to slash greenhouse gas in their manufacturing processes. India's Wipro jumped to the No. 1 position and received high scores for its plan to cut “emissions by 44 percent by 2015 from a base year of 2008” and for setting “a goal of achieving 85 percent of its emissions reduction through renewable energy.” The company was making its debut in the international version of Greenpeace's Guide to Greener Electronics for the first time and had previously been in the Indian edition.

Abhishek Pratap, Greenpeace India senior campaigner wrote in an emailed statement:

Wipro has set a new benchmark for sustainability, not only in India but across the globe, that will have a long-term impact in shaping the green energy debate in the electronics industry. The rest of the electronics sector should follow in the footsteps of Wipro's climate leadership.

{complink 2376|Hewlett-Packard Co.} slipped in the ranking to No. 2 from the premier position in 2011 and is followed in the third slot by Nokia, which had previously claimed the No. 1 slot for three years until it lost the title in 2011. Greenpeace said Nokia “met a renewable energy target of 40 percent, a strong number but still below its original 2010 target of 50 percent,” adding “the company falls short in other areas as well, including lacking a robust clean electricity plan, an ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 30 percent by 2015, and a renewable energy target of 100 percent by 2020.”

With all its current challenges, it is understandable if environmental preservation is not a major concern for Nokia's senior executives.

Making up the Top 10 in the Greenpeace ranking are Wipro, HP, Nokia, Acer, Dell, and Apple, in that order. The remaining companies on the list are Samsung, Sony, Lenovo, and Philips, also in that order.

33 comments on “Greenpeace: Electronics Supply Chain Is Still Dirty

  1. Nemos
    November 20, 2012

    Congratulations to Wipro, It is very pity to see large and successful companies to be in the last positions (RIM, Toshiba) also I was expecting to see Apple to be in No1 position (Apple is the wealthiest company now)

  2. itguyphil
    November 20, 2012

    No change really. Apple has been in to top spot for some time now…

  3. FLYINGSCOT
    November 21, 2012

    I wonder how traceable the performance is for the larger companies that use subcons in China.  If Greenpeace is tracking everyone in the prodcution flow then the larger companies should be commended for a job well done.

  4. Ashu001
    November 21, 2012

    Nemos,

    I am sure you have seen (and have experienced) a lot about life and Business.

    Whether we like it or not;Money can't Buy you everything in life.

    Take a note of how Apple became the richest company in the world[By Extensively using Tax shelters to cheat on taxes] and shipping their work to the lowest cost destination to save on Labour;you realize they don't really have much in terms of Ethics do they???

    So no,I am not at all surprised to see Apple is not No.1 in this list.

    Regards

    Ashish.

     

  5. Ashu001
    November 21, 2012

    Guys,

    I understand the notion of recycling and environmental sustainability[In particular using the least amount of resources to the get the most work done];but do we just need more and more bueracracy/paper-work or do we need Simplicity???

    I am saying this because for most Businesses today the Bueracracy is so strangling that they refuse to generate the jobs that are needed in this economy.

    Europe[In particular France]is pathetic in this respect;but American bueracracy particularly in states like California and Massacheuts is terrible too…

    Regards

    Ashish.

  6. Ashu001
    November 21, 2012

    FlyingScot,

    Yeah I had the same feeling in my head too…

    Somehow its really easy for the Majors to outsource all liability and responsibility  to the subcontractors (who do all the Dirty-work for them).

    Regards

    Ashish.

  7. Nemos
    November 21, 2012

    Sorry for this but I doubt about it , the last time I saw the list Nokia was on top, actually you can't be from the top in the middle in a short term. 

  8. bolaji ojo
    November 21, 2012

    Nokia was once No. 1 but that was two years ago.

  9. ITempire
    November 21, 2012

    Anna, could you shed some light on the cost factor in eliminating green house gases ? Whether the cost of energy is likely to increase or the manufacturers will save the cost and it is only the matter of putting in some effort?

  10. ITempire
    November 21, 2012

    @ Ashish I second your point about Apple not being on the list because of its preference of money making. It is about realizing the corporate social responsibility in moving to environment friendly production no matter what the impact is on cost. Is the existing leaders are implementing it, then it is got to be practicable.

  11. Ashu001
    November 22, 2012

    Waqas,

    It all depends on if and when Ethical Investing catches on Big-time!!!

    Right now The only Fund which does this aggressively is Norway's Pension Fund.

    If more funds start acting like Norway's Pension Fund and turn into Activist investors then Apple will have no choice but to move towards more environmentally friendly practices.

    When your Stock price falls by 20% in two days because Investors are applying pressure for bad business practices then Executives have no choice but to act.

    Its how things work unfortunately the Market is Final Judge,Jury and Executioner here!

    Regards

    Ashish.

  12. prabhakar_deosthali
    November 22, 2012

    It is good to see some of the top companies taking initiatives to make their manufacturing facilities environment friendly.

     

    I am just curious to know how the ratings are done?  Is it based upon the average emission levels or peak emission levels.

    Is their some standard on how much a company is allowed to emit?

    Is there some kind manufacturing capacity vs amount of emission allowed or is it linked with the actual production vs  the total emission during the production period?

     

     

     

  13. ITempire
    November 22, 2012

    Ashish, I agree with you that market pressure is an effective way to implement environmental policies however we can't let the market decide as to whether the environment friendly production should be implemented. This is because if the majority players are not concerned about the environment, the norm will force those who are currently implementing to withdraw their efforts. The point is that government has to regulate the process.

  14. Ashu001
    November 22, 2012

    Waqas,

    This is where you and me differ.

    Especially if you look at how the Economic-Political System works in the US today;you would think twice before giving the Federal Government in DC more power.

    Its a massive-massive mistake.

    America has become a haven for Crony-Capitalist interests precisely because we have concentrated too much power in the hands of those people in DC.

    I prefer total and complete devolution of power down to the lowest levels so as to enable States,Districts,Cities and Towns to take their own decisions.

    The same goes for Environmental concerns as well.

    Lets say a company has the option for establishing its Electronics Processing plant in two seperate States ,State A and State B.

    In State A,Unemployment is not very high(5%) and the economy is by and large doing very well.Now here;if the Citizens stand up in opposition of this plant[Primarily for Environmental Reasons];it makes sense.After all,the NIMBY phenomenon is well and active today in America.

    On the other hand in State B,Unemployment is very-very high(10%+);where each and every job is fought over big-time.Here the State (and its people) welcome this Investment with open arms.But then what happens?

    The Federal Government in DC slaps more insane paperwork and regulations on the company which stops them from investing there(instead the jobs go overseas).

    Why should DC stick its nose in the affairs of States here???

    Lets face the facts-Every human activity generates some pollution or the other.The solution is to make sure that Corporations get more efficent and Sustainable with how they use Resources.And this can be done best through Competition and market forces.

    Not Government Diktat.

    Regards

    Ashish.

  15. Ashu001
    November 22, 2012

    Prabhakar,

    Good Questions!

    As an entrepreneur I detest most paper-work and this is an issue which has become more and more acute today thanks Organizations like Greenpeace and especially all manner of Greens invading DC today.

    Don't get me wrong I don't support Enviromental pollution or harming Mother nature;but I also want Jobs too.

    If it means pollution levels rise slightly(say upto 5% from where they are today);to add more Quality jobs to the country I support that move entirely.

    Regards

    Ashish.

  16. prabhakar_deosthali
    November 22, 2012

    You are right Ashish.

    In my opinion the Automobile industry is the most pollution causing industry today both in terms of the emssions created by their production facility, the emissions created by the input materials ( Mainly steel) and the emissions caused by the final products.

     

    Electronics products atleast do not  have any significant emisions while working .

    IF emmsion causing industries are outside the dense population areas then it really does not matter about their emissions

     

  17. bolaji ojo
    November 22, 2012

    Ashish, What's your recommended solution to the regulatory overload?

  18. Ashu001
    November 22, 2012

    Prabhakar,

    I just wish more people thought like you did!!!

    We have too many useless Paper-pushers in DC today.

    Regards

    Ashish.

  19. bolaji ojo
    November 22, 2012

    Emissions and other industrial pollutants are not space bound. They don't stay in one spot and just impact the immediate environment. They move around and pollute cities and nations far from where they were generated. Chinese pollution will find its way to other regions of the globe. That's why the phenomenon global warming is a global and not a local challenge but it's also a global challenge that must be controlled locally.

  20. Ashu001
    November 22, 2012

    Bolaji,

    I would do two things.

    First)Slash All Federal Government Salaries by 25% across the Board-What will this do?

    Apart from Reducing the Attractiveness of Federal Government Jobs also cut our Budget Deficit sharply.

    and

    Second)Institute Single Window clearances (with one Federal ,One State and One County representative) on the Board of Clearances.

    No more going to a hundred places for different-different clearances.

    I know Mitt Romney was not a very popular guy when he stood for election[I did'nt like him either];but he raised a very valuable issue during the Presidential Campaign-More than half of all American Citizens are dependent on the Government for some form of assistance/Salaries.

    Unless this feature changes and changes real fast;I see no real hope for escape from our Bueracratic Mega-state.

    Its sad but its true.

    Regards

    Ashish.

  21. Ashu001
    November 22, 2012

    Bolaji,

    I don't believe in Global Warming.

    As far as pollution is concerned-Yes you are correct;Pollution does tend to move around one place to another very frequently.Which is why,I recommended putting more power in the hands of Local citizens[devolution of State power];let Citizens decide for themselves whether they want the jobs or if they feel the Pollution levels are too onerous and its not worth the risk.

    This is where my Three Member Board Idea would work[With one Federal Rep on it too];if the pollution levels are too high;any one member can veto the entire project.

    Regards

    Ashish.

  22. bolaji ojo
    November 22, 2012

    Ashish, First, Happy Thanksgiving.

    I won't address first your assumptions about the potential impact of an across the board 25 percent cut in Federal Government salaries with the intention of making the jobs uninteresting to highly qualified folks!

    However, I must address the comment regarding the percentage of people dependent upon the government. It interests me that Mitt Romeny was seeking a government job and was supported by billionnaires who — I am guessing — are altruists seeking to also help him save the nation. Everyone is dependent upon the government. That's the truth most of us, including yourself, should accept. I'll explain.

    It's Thanksgiving Day as I write this and I am sitting in my house certain peace reigns around me, convinced I need only dial 911 to get help — medical and otherwise — and my roads are well paved and my country is heavily armed and can rebuff any army today in the world.

    The infrastructure you and I depend upon and the peace we take for granted are assured by the government we want to dump on. I am not a politician seeking office but I am sure glad there's a government in place that employs highly qualified people and that pays them (hopefully) salaries that are quite competitive.

  23. Ashu001
    November 22, 2012

    Bolaji,

    Happy Thanksgiving to you too!!!

    I have seen some very good studies and articles which very clearly point out that the Federal Government heavily overpays its employees compared to the Private Sector today.

    Sure,there may be specialized jobs[like IT security for instance] where the Private Sector pays more;but by and large the Government heavily overpays its employees today.

    I prefer the Ron Paul way of doing things-Keep Limited Government (Defense,Foriegn Policy,Immigration,Environment)and Privatize everything else.

    Every single function you have referred to here can be done by the Private Sector today for much cheaper and more efficently than the Government.As long as we have a Transparent and Open Bidding process for all Contracts I see no reason why Government should poke its nose everywhere else.

    Yeah I agree-Romney deserved too lose.He was too sleazy a guy to win WhiteHouse.

    Regards

    Ashish.

  24. Adeniji Kayode
    November 22, 2012

    @Bolaji, I agree with you on that, I really believe emission-causing industries moving to a non- residencial area(s) will not solve the issue of the enviromental pollution at all, but to embrace the Greenpeace.

  25. Adeniji Kayode
    November 22, 2012

    @Prabhakar,

    Youare right on that but in the developing countries, that may not be the case.

    They still depend on generators for power so much that automobile don,t really make the top of the list.

  26. syedzunair
    November 23, 2012

    @Adeniji Kayode: 

    You are spot on. In the developing world automobiles do not make it to the top of the list. The power generation and the industries put little emphasis on being envoirnmentally friendly. Even if you consider automobiles to be an important contributor I think that it would be the heavy vehicles and the auto-rickshaws (3 wheelers that usually run on 2-stroke engines). 

  27. ITempire
    November 23, 2012

    @ tech4people

    Relying on central government alone is not a good idea but to me relying on market forces alone is not safe either. If you think from a global perspective and not just the US, there are many countries where if the government lets the market forces implement the environment protection measures, that will not happen no matter what. It is about the precedence. If that says that money making is important, then every company in that country is Apple.

  28. Ashu001
    November 23, 2012

    Waqas,

    I could very easily bring about the Reverse Argument also-Just because you have Government Rules and Regulations ;what is the guarantee that they will be enforced fairly and not be sold out to the Highest bidder???

    Regards

    Ashish.

  29. Houngbo_Hospice
    November 23, 2012

    @tech4people

    “what is the guarantee that they will be enforced fairly and not be sold out to the Highest bidder???”

    Good point. But we can't generalize that to every country. Laws and regulations are much more enforced in most western or developed countries.

  30. ITempire
    November 24, 2012

    @ Ashish

    There is no guarantee. But in a system where corporations are ready to pay bribe to government to escape from the cost of implementing environment protection measures, you cant expect the market forces to play their part effectively. A government regulation does make a difference; if 70% break the law, 30% will implement it.

  31. Wale Bakare
    November 24, 2012

    The problem is how the greenpeace impacts on finance. What financial implications on their investments?  Most investors arent interested in what would not bring quick returns.

  32. itguyphil
    November 24, 2012

    Really?

    What list is that. Or better yet, what country/region is that list tracking?

  33. prabhakar_deosthali
    November 25, 2012

    Isn't the trading of Carbon credits just defeats the Greenpeace efforts. Trading of carbon credits is almost like shifting of the pollution from one place to another – if I am not wrong.

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