Apple, which likes to tout its eco-credentials, has dropped to sixth place in the annual Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics, after allegedly failing to organise a take-back programme in India or set targets to reduce emissions by 2020.
Apple does top the charts, along with HP, when it comes to its minimal use of conflict materials, but lets itself down through the aforementioned issues, the fact it scores poorly through most Greenpeace energy criteria and its failure to ban paper suppliers said to be involved in deforestation and illegal logging.
Saying that, Greenpeace does state Apple's energy efficiency exceeds the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Energy Star guidelines by over twice the recommended level, with the Mac Mini up to six times as efficient.
Still, Apple now ranks lower than Dell, which dropped to fifth from last year's second; Acer, which rises to fourth; and Nokia, which takes third place again following three years at the top of corporate dedication to Gaia between 2007 and 2010.
Dell's position is boosted by a commendable cut in greenhouse gas emissions and its commitment to reduce GHGs by 40 per cent come 2015. It also performs well on the criteria for sustainable operations, particularly its paper procurement policy, Greenpeace said.
Acer showed the greatest improvement on the energy criteria by promising a 60 per cent GHG reduction by 2020. Nokia, meanwhile, pledged to use nothing but renewable energy by 2020 and scores well on the sustainable operations' criteria thanks to its voluntary take-back programme for end-of-life mobile phones, according to the eco-campaigner.
HP, 2011's winner, lost its lead by a massive margin to Indian corporate computing company Wipro. Greenpeace applauded Wipro's efforts and said the firm sets a benchmark for sustainability thanks to its efforts to embrace renewable energy and collect used electronics for recycling.
According to Greenpeace, HP remains the leader in sustainable operations through its paper procurement policy and its sourcing of greener materials. It does, however, continue to score poorly in e-waste and its failure to disclose the amount of recycled plastics it uses.
Further down, Samsung's push to be greener sees the South Korean firm take seventh place as it starts to meet a revised goal of eliminating hazardous substances from its products. That doesn't apply to its TV and household appliances, though.
On the other hand, Sony trails closely behind in eighth with all its TVs meeting or exceeding the latest Energy Star standards. Lenovo and Philips were both pushed down the list to ninth and tenth, respectively, a fall mainly attributed to sustainability improvements from aforementioned rivals.
Toshiba and Sharp rank poorly on the efficiency scale, the former mainly for lacking an efficiency target at all, the latter primarily for its slow response to remove hazardous materials from its production line.
Both manufacturers are only slightly ahead of RIM. The BlackBerry maker remains in last place for its complete failure to disclose to Greenpeace its GHG emissions or to set public targets for the reduction of emissions by 2015.
Either way, these rankings should be taken with a pinch of salt as most scores are based on a company's promises and publicity. ®