Mark Brandon is the Managing Partner of First Sustainable (http://www.firstsustainable.com), a registered investment advisory catering to socially responsible investors. In addition to Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), he may opine on social venturing, microfinance, community investing, clean technology commercialization, sustainability public policy, green products, and, on occasion, University of Texas Longhorn sports.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Green Peace Ranks Tech Company Responsibility
Dell 2nd, Apple Dead Last

The environmental watchdog, Greenpeace, released the 2nd edition of its Green Electronics Guide, ranking tech companies on their commitment to environmental responsibility. On a 10-point scale, Nokia (NYSE:NOK) scored the highest with a 7.3. Surprisingly, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), the company with former Veep Al Gore on its board, came in dead last, owing to its tepid commitment to recycling, the continued presence of some dangerous chemicals in its manufacturing process, and the lack of a timeline to phase out these chemicals. The full list is below:

Nokia (ADR:NOK)
- Good on all criteria, but needs clear timeline for PVC phase out for all applications. Score: 7.3/10

Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) -Loses points for not having models free of the worst chemicals. Strong support for takeback. Score: 7/10

Fujitsu-Siemens (ADR:FJTSY) - High score on chemical policy, some models free of worst chemicals. But should improve takeback and recycling. Score: 6/10

Motorola (NYSE:MOT) - Big improvement on all criteria, info on cleaner products, still to provide clear timelines for phase out of worst chemicals. Score: 6/10

Sony Ericsson - Some models without the worst chemicals, provides timelines for chemicals phase out, but needs better chemicals policies and takeback reporting. Score: 5.7/10

HP (NYSE:HPQ) -Needs to do better on the chemicals criteria especially phase out timelines and greener products. High scores on takeback. Score: 5.7/10

Acer - Improved chemical policies but no models free of the worst chemicals. Needs to improve on takeback. Score:5.3/10

Lenovo (ADR:LNVGY) - Progress on most criteria but loses points for not having products free of the worst chemicals, on takeback and recycling. Score: 5.3/10

Sony (ADR:SNE) - Some models without the worst chemicals, loses point for inconsistent takeback policies. Score: 5/10

Panasonic-Improved score but no commitment to eliminate BFRs, and poor on takeback. Score: 4.3/10

LGE-Improved chemicals policies, but no cleaner products on the market, loses points for inconsistent takeback policies. Score: 4/10

Samsung-Scores points for timelines for toxic phase out but poor on waste criteria. Loses points for inconsistent takeback policies. Score: 4/10

Toshiba (ADR:TOSBF)
-Some models without the worst chemicals and reports on recycling, but no timelines for chemical phase out and poor on other waste criteria. Score: 3.7/10

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) -Low scores on almost all criteria and no progress. Score: 2.7/10

The report's primary benchmarks were the company's use of dangerous chemicals, specifically PVC (a vinyl plastic) and brominated flame retardants (BFR's), the presence of these chemicals in their current models, and the presence of a plan to phase out these chemicals from their model lineup. Additionally, Greenpeace judged the company's commitment to a takeback program when the product becomes obsolete. This measure is especially important to keep those aforementioned chemicals out of landfills. A final criterion was the company's efforts to push responsibility onto their supply chains.

Particularly pleasing for me is the presence of Dell at the number 2 position. As I have mentioned in these posts before, I am a former employee of both Dell and Apple. When I was at Dell in the early part of this decade, environmental responsibility was not important to the company at all. To this, I would like to relate a humorous story. My superiors at Dell once sponsored a contest among the lower ranks to come up with a marketing gimmick for the Small and Medium Business Division. I suggested a takeback program when a new system was purchased. As the thinking went, you got a competitor's computer out and our computer in. Hauling away old machines had gotten to be a bigger problem in Corporate America. Plus, it's the right thing to do for the environment. In short, the idea was laughably dismissed as being impractical, expensive, and not worthwhile. Seeing this company at the forefront of the computer recycling movement is now gratifying.

A short time later, I had defected to Apple. When asked about computer recycling in front of employees, Steve Jobs, dismissed protesters outside Apple's headquarters as extortionists from environmental groups. Apple, too, is making headway on the recycling front, but has so far resisted efforts to phase out those harmful chemicals.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Nathaniel Millward said...

So what are the employees wearing when they're working with these dangerous chemicals? I have an article here about new rubber suits that have been designed to block dangerous chemicals from passing through the material, yet allowing water molecules (sweat) to pass through easily.
Rubber Suits

12:54 PM

 
Anonymous Green RFID Guy said...

Coincidentally, I found remanufactured iPods on amazon.com the other day. But, they're being sold by HP...

12:41 PM

 
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