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Greenpeace Help Consumers Find Greener Gadgets

Laptop sitting in a green field

When many of us think about what to buy our loved ones for Christmas, the first thought is often electronics. The price of gadgets and gizmos has plummeted in the last ten years, as people upgrade their phones, mp3 players or laptops almost annually.

While this increased consumption may be cheaper for us, it’s more expensive for the earth. With dozens of companies offering competing claims over the environmental credentials of their products, how do you know which to reward with your hard-earned cash?

Just in time for the shopping frenzy, Greenpeace have released the latest edition of their Guide to Greener Electronics. It’s an ethical Who’s Who of the cleanest and greenest electronics companies, assigning each a score out of ten to give consumers access to environmental information fast.

Range Of Criteria

The charity use a range of different criteria when deciding where companies should rank. These include the energy efficiency of their products, the number of hazardous chemicals and substances used in the manufacturing process, and the length of time their products are likely to last before needing to be replaced.

They also take into account companies that encourage their customers to bring back and recycle old unwanted goods, and on the other side of the coin, companies that use ‘conflict minerals’ – materials that are obtained from troubled areas of the world (similar to ‘blood diamonds’)

WIPRO Rules The Roost

Which company topped the list this year? If you’re expecting a Silicon Valley household name, you’d be wrong. It’s Indian company WIPRO, with an impressive score of 7.1. You might not have heard of them because they’re a jack of all trades – their website boasts everything from baby care products to eco-lighting technology.

So what won them the top-spot for the first time? The company “makes significant efforts in advocating for clean energy and solar policy” according to the report, which rewards the Indian company “maximum score for its effective take-back policy and performance on the collection and recycling of post-consumer e-waste.”

If that sounds like gobbledegook, you can start to see why Greenpeace felt the need to introduce a simple numeric score. Despite coming in for criticism over its paper sourcing policies, WIPRO is still way out in front. In second place is American giant HP, with a score of only 5.7.

Rotten BlackBerries

In last place is RIM, manufacturer of the BlackBerry, with a dismal score of 2.0. What earned the ailing company such a drubbing? According to their report, the company “lacks both a comprehensive clean electricity plan and a target to increase renewable energy.” Although they lead in other areas, such as avoiding conflict minerals, the lack of any clean energy plan has earned them a place at the bottom of the pecking order.

Other heavy-hitters such as Samsung and Sony are eighth and ninth respectively (out of sixteen), while the staggeringly successful Apple weigh in at sixth. Nokia are third, perhaps proving that environmental success doesn’t necessarily equal business success.

The absence of phone maker HTC implies that they didn’t release enough data for Greenpeace to make a fair decision. That might be because this list is not yet taken as seriously as it should be. But in the light of the recent Apple EPEAT fiasco, consumers might start thinking a bit longer about what exactly is in the box. And some harsh truths may take the shine off their new toy.

Sam Gregory

Hi! My name is Sam, hopefully you're enjoying my scribblings. I've recently graduated with a degree in Journalism, and writing is my passion. I'm also liable to turn green and go super big if I see a misplaced apostrophe. I've been a bit of a social activist as a student, especially on LGBT issues, but also on environmental causes. My other passion in life (don't laugh) is rollercoasters. I travel all over Europe riding rollercoasters. Yes, it's an odd hobby, but I love it.

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