Greenpeace calls for tech firms to cut carbon

19 Nov 2012

Greenpeace praises green progress in tech manufacturing, but says more should be done around energy use

Greenpeace has called for tech firms to think more about carbon emissions during manufacturing, as an Indian IT firm grabs first place on its green ranking.

The environmental group said tech firms - including HP, Nokia and Apple - had generally done well in removing toxic materials from devices they make, but said energy used in manufacturing was still too "dirty".

"The next big environmental challenge for consumer electronics companies is to reduce their carbon pollution," said Greenpeace International IT analyst Casey Harrell. "Consumers have stated that they want greener electronics, which means high functioning gadgets that are built and powered by renewable energy."

The next big environmental challenge for consumer electronics companies is to reduce their carbon pollution

While many electronics now use much less energy than previous devices - more to extend battery life than protect the planet - Greenpeace pointed out that most of the energy use from devices is actually from the manufacturing stage.

"More carbon is used in the manufacture of some gadgets, such as tablets and smartphones, than consumers ever use after buying them," the group said, asking consumers to try to use devices for as long as possible before replacing them.

"Companies should work with their suppliers to implement more efficient manufacturing processes and to power the supply chain with renewable energy, not fossil fuels, just as they have successfully done to reduce the toxic materials in electronics," Harrell added.

The ranking

For this round of the ranking, Greenpeace for the first time included Indian IT giant Wipro - which tops the ranking well above second place HP, helped by its use of renewable energy, recycling policies and cutting back on hazardous substances, as well as "advocacy for green policies in India", the environmental group said.

"Wipro has set a new benchmark for sustainability, not only in India but across the globe, that will have a long-term impact in shaping the green energy debate in the electronics industry," said Greenpeace India Senior Campaigner Abhishek Pratap. "The rest of the electronics sector should follow in the footsteps of Wipro’s climate leadership."

The ranking normally highlights firms that produce consumer electronics, making Wipro a strange choice, but Greenpeace said the firm was included after Greenpeace ran a similar ranking in India, with fellow Indian firm HCL Infosystems ranked in 13th place.

Greenpeace

If not for Wipro, HP would have held its first-place ranking, sliding only slightly from last year. Nokia and Acer increased their scores to grab third and fourth, helped by renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction efforts, while Dell and Apple both lost points - the former for failing to phase out hazardous substances, and the latter for a lack of transparency around carbon emissions.

Overall scores for the firms have declined for the second ranking in a row, although it's worth pointing out that Greenpeace's scoring process is somewhat subjective. With the exception of Wipro, all the scores were below the six-point mark. Second-ranked HP scored 5.7, down from 5.9; last round, scores had also shown an overall decline.

(That chart is limited to nine major firms; for the full data set, click here.)

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