Greenpeace International

Guide to greener and safer electronics

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Courtesy of Greenpeace International

With expanded and tougher criteria on toxic chemicals, electronic waste and new criteria on climate change only Sony and Sony Ericsson score more than 5/10 in our latest Guide to Greener Electronics. Nintendo and Microsoft remain rooted to the bottom of the Guide. Ranking criteria explained: As of the 8th edition of the Guide to Greener Electronics, Greenpeace scores electronics brands on a tightened set of chemicals and e-waste criteria, (which include new criteria) and on new energy criteria.

The ranking criteria reflect the demands of the Toxic Tech campaign to electronics companies. Our two demands are that companies should:

(1) clean up their products by eliminating hazardous substances; and
(2) take-back and recycle their products responsibly once they become obsolete.

The two issues are connected: the use of harmful chemicals in electronic products prevents their safe recycling once the
products are discarded.

Given the increasing evidence of climate change and the urgency of addressing this issue, Greenpeace has added new
energy criteria to encourage electronics companies to:

(3) improve their corporate policies and practices with respect to Climate and Energy Criteria on Toxic Chemicals
Greenpeace wants to see electronics companies clean up their act. Substituting harmful chemicals in the production of electronics will prevent worker exposure to these substances and contamination of communities that neighbour production facilities. Eliminating harmful substances will also prevent leaching/off-gassing of chemicals like brominated flame retardants (BFR) during use, and enable electronic scrap to be safely recycled. The presence of toxic substances in electronics perpetuates the toxic cycle – during reprocessing of electronic waste and by using contaminated secondary materials to make new products.

The issue of toxicity is overarching. Until the use of toxic substances is eliminated, it is impossible to secure ‘safe’ recycling. For this reason, the points awarded to corporate practice on chemicals are weighted more heavily than criteria on recycling. Although there are five criteria on both chemicals and waste, the top score on chemicals is 18 points, as double points are awarded for vinyl plastic-free (PVC) and BFR-free models on the market, whereas the top score on e-waste is 15 points.

The criteria on Precautionary Principle and Chemicals Management remain the same. The criterion: BFR-free and PVC-free models on the market, also remains the same and continues to score double points. The two former criteria:

Commitment to eliminating PVC with timeline and Commitment to eliminating all BFRs with timeline, have been merged into one criterion, with the lower level of commitment to PVC or BFR elimination determining the score on this criterion.

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