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HP earns Greenpeace eco-purity snog

Other techs dealt logging and greenwashing FAIL

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The latest annual Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics is out, and Nokia has lost its three-year reign at the top to an up-and-coming HP.

Before anyone starts popping compostable champagne corks, it’s worth pointing out that none of the 15 companies studied over the last year managed more than six out of ten on Greenpeace’s scale of eco-purity. That said, a number of companies have been righteously walking the walk when it comes to operating more sustainably.

HP scored best this year, jumping three places to the top of the crop, in part due to getting its suppliers to cut emissions, and for reducing the amount of energy it and its products use. The company also scored points for fighting California’s proposition 23, which sought to weaken environmental standards in that state. Greenpeace did, however, ding HP for having short product lifespans and a lack of long-term servicing and repairs.

Dell clinched the number-two position, and moved up eight places this year after it agreed to eliminate PVC and bromide flame retardants from its products. The company also won praise for disclosing its own energy use and for aiming to cut emissions by 40 per cent by 2015. It lost points, however, for not listing which of its products were Energy Star compliant.

Nokia, the greenest company ranked by Greenpeace since 2008, slapped down to third after failing to decide on an energy policy that includes more renewables – although it did score top marks for the energy efficiency of its products. Apple came in fourth, faulted for also lacking a decent energy policy.

At the bottom end of the scale was troubled Canadian smartphone manufacturer RIM. This was its debut on the green table, but it scored a mere 1.6 out of ten. The company failed on energy policy and on reporting efficiency statistics on its products, but it did win praise for its ethical sourcing policy.

This latter point was one of the big problems identified by the survey. Of the 15 companies on the list, only HP and Dell have a policy on sourcing their paper supplies from sustainable sources, checking that the wood is sourced from renewable forestry and excluding conflict logging.

“HP and Dell are heaps better than others on this, so far,” Greenpeace coordinator Casey Harrell told The Register. “There are a host of other big multinational companies that have more farsighted procurement policies than most of these consumer electronic companies, so it's definitely doable. Hopefully this puts the issue squarely on these companies' radar and we’ll see improvement.”

The other big area of concern was greenwashing. Many of the companies surveyed lost points for espousing green positions in their own companies, but also supporting lobbying efforts via trade associations for looser environmental controls.

“An additional issue is one where companies hide behind their trade associations,” Harrell explained. “It's tough to sometimes see who is driving a particular agenda at the trade association level – it's often just a few companies. This is why we push for public statements of opposition when a member company's policy is different than what their trade association is advocating.” ®

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