Electronics industry still lags in green credentials

6 Mar 2008

The technology industry has a long way to go before it develops a truly environmentally-friendly electronic product, Greenpeace has claimed.

The campaigning environmental organisation released findings from its ‘Searching for Greener Electronics’ survey at the digital trade fair CeBit in Hanover, Germany yesterday. Sony’s Vaio TZ Notebook, the Sony Ericsson T650i mobile phone and the Sony Ericsson P1i PDA were declared the greenest products but each scored just over half of the potential 100 points.

Some 14 major electronics brands agreed to provide information for the survey, submitting information on their most environmentally-friendly products – desktops, notebooks, mobile phones and PDAs – and 37 products were awarded points against green design criteria, including the substitution of hazardous chemical substances, energy efficiency and recyclability.

“Since undertaking the survey, we have already witnessed the arrival of greener products in the market, such as Apple’s new laptop, the MacBook Air and Nokia’s new phone, the Evolve,” said Yannick Vicaire, Greenpeace International toxics campaigner. “Manufacturers still have a long way to go but more and more are now taking the environmental impacts of their products seriously.”

The survey demonstrates the different steps being taken by manufacturers to improve the environmental performance of their products. Several products showcase toxic-free innovations going beyond current regulations, such as the EU’s Restriction on Hazardous Substances directive. Others show clear efforts to improve on energy efficiency, recyclability or upgradeability.

Nevertheless, Greenpeace urged manufacturers to increase their efforts to make their products environmentally sound.

“Manufacturers need to embrace a truly comprehensive approach,” said Vicaire. “Consumers should not have to choose between a toxic-free product or an energy-efficient one. They should not need to ask if being recyclable is better than being durable. When a product offers all those standards and is marketed with consumer-friendly services expanding the lifespan as much as possible, then we can say there is a true green product on the market.”

By Niall Byrne