Apple leads in environmental practices

Greenpeace has released its latest report on the environmental practices of electronics companies. Apple ranked high in the various categories, while other large companies came under serious criticism.

Competition is fierce in the electronics industry, and we are used to seeing headlines about various legal disputes and market manoeuvring between the various electronics giants, most recently between Samsung and Apple when it comes to smartphones. But there is one area where Apple stands far above the rest: They are a leader in environmentally friendly practices, according to the Greenpeace report “Green Gadgets: Designing the Future”.

Out of a total of 16 electronics manufacturers from around the world, California-based Apple is the only company to have succeeded in completely eliminating the use of hazardous polyvinylchloride (PVC) plastic and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) in all PC components, including external cables. Its competitor Samsung has made a commitment to phase these out in PCs, but has dropped its previous commitment to eliminate these hazardous substances from its TVs. Samsung is one of the largest TV producers in the world.

Amazon and Microsoft come under particularly heavy criticism by Greenpeace. Both are gaining a market share in the US tablet and smartphone markets, and yet Microsoft has dropped its previous commitment to phase out PVC and BFRs while Amazon refuses to provide any public information on the environmental performance of its consumer electronics, writes Greenpeace.

The report also focuses on the energy consumption of devices, in terms of their energy efficiency but also as regards the energy used to produce them. This is because the rapid growth of electronics consumption in both developed and developing markets has increased the energy demand to manufacture electronics, mainly in East Asia where coal power still dominates power production, explains Greenpeace.

As the report shows, concrete steps can be taken to slash the carbon footprint, with both Lenovo and Huawei are using solar installations to power their factories in China. Apple has pledged to take this even further with its planned 100 per cent renewable energy factory to make iPhone screens.


Photo credit: Tom Hoyle, flickr/Creative Commons

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