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Over the weekend, Greenpeace, which monitors such things, released a report that ranked the very devices we use every day for knowledge sharing and collaboration "on their use of toxic chemicals and electronic waste." Greenpeace also ranked leading manufacturers' decisions to actively recycle their products in a safe manner. The results, if accurate, were shocking.Using a scale of 0 to 10, no device maker ranked higher than 7. Nokia and Dell both received 7s, "barely acceptable," based on the fact that both companies have decided to reduce the amount of toxic chemicals in their devices and also to publish a timeline for future reductions. Three major manufacturers, Apple, Lenovo, and Motorola, received failing grades.
Disposing of mobile phones, palm devices, laptops, and desktop computers is a large and growing problem. Depending on whom you ask, some 20m - 50m tons of so-called e-waste is produced each year. Last month, new rules in both Europe and California came into force, obliging manufacturers to assume responsibility. In Europe, the Restriction of Hazadous Substances directive limits the use of many toxic materials in such products; in California, retailers of mobile phones must take back and recycle old mobiles.
To virtually no one's surprise, Nokia was the highest ranked, having already gotten rid of PVC from its products with plans to eliminate all BFRs starting next year.
HP, Sony Ericsson and Samsung were also in the top five; Lenovo and Motorola were at the very bottom of the list, although Greenpeace singled out Apple Computer, 11th out of 14, with criticism on its main Web page: "It is disappointing to see Apple ranking so low in the overall guide. They are meant to be world leaders in design and marketing, they should also be world leaders in environmental innovation."
Greenpeace explains the rankings as follows:
The ranking criteria reflect the demands of the Toxic Tech campaign to the electronics companies. Our two demands are that companies should:
- clean up their products by eliminating hazardous substances
- take back and recycle their products responsibly once they become obsolete.
Who can argue with that?