Consumer electronics giants Apple, Dell, Motorola, Microsoft, Nintendo and Samsung have been slow to get serious about climate change, and are notably lagging behind, according to the latest edition of the Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics.
Many companies still show little engagement with the issue, which is a disappointment, according to Greenpeace International Climate & Energy campaigner Mel Francis.
"They are basically lagging behind on what we need for a good climate package. They haven't demonstrated any real commitment to cutting their own CO2 emissions, or to lobbying politicians to get a good deal post-Kyoto," said Francis.
"They assume that growth in their business also must therefore mean growth in their CO2 emissions. At Greenpeace we think that's not necessarily true," said Francis.
Greenpeace would like to see a lot more action going forward. "We are simply asking them to become climate leaders. They need to put their words into action and follow through on the claims they're making," said Francis.
Still, there are a few exceptions: Fujitsu Siemens Computers, Philips and Sharp support the level of cuts in greenhouse gases that science requires, according to Greenpeace.
In its latest Guide to Greener Electronics, Greenpeace gives Philips marks for committing to making absolute reductions in its own greenhouse gas emissions from the product manufacture and supply chain, which HP has done as well.
Both Philips and HP have also committed to making cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from their own operations. Nokia has done the same, said Francis.
Its overall ranking—which takes into account company policies on toxic chemicals, recycling and climate change—is topped by Nokia (Greenpeace likes its take-back program and use of renewable energy), followed by Sony Ericsson and Toshiba.
Philips and HP are in the bottom half of the list: good energy policies aren't enough, and both companies must improve how they handle e-waste, said Greenpeace.
Motorola, Toshiba and Sharp made the biggest moves up the chart, while the companies falling down the ranking are the PC brands Acer, Dell, HP—and Apple, although it still gets a thumbs-up for improving its score, by better reporting on the carbon footprint of its products.
Apple's new iPods are also are now free of both PVC and brominated flame retardants, according to Greenpeace.
In general, the PC manufacturers need to improve the handling of e-waste.
Dell and Acer also need to reduce their use of toxic chemicals, said Greenpeace. Dell loses points for withdrawing from its commitment to eliminate all PVC plastic and brominated flame retardants by the end of 2009.
The use of toxic chemicals has in the past been a focus area for Greenpeace, but here there has been some positive movement. Consumer electronics companies have been allies to Greenpeace as it has tried to reduce the use of toxic materials and get legislation passed, according to Francis.
Nintendo remains in last place in the ranking, although it is taking small steps to remove or monitor the presence of some potentially toxic additives in the plastics it uses, Greenpeace said.