Greenpeace is using its latest green-ratings guide to press consumer electronics companies to do more than just clean up their own act.
The 14th quarterly "Guide to Greener Electronics," (PDF) which rates hardware makers on chemical waste, e-waste, and recycling efforts, now assesses each company's public efforts on environmental issues.
The report, issued Thursday, considers whether a company actively lobbies for industrywide laws that would prevent other companies from using environmentally damaging materials, as part of their corporate sustainability obligations.
Specifically, Greenpeace said companies should support a new version of the European Union's RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances in electronics). The update would ban brominated flame retardants (BFRs), chlorinated flame retardants (CFRs), and PVC vinyl plastic from being used in the manufacturing of electronics. (The regulation already restricts how much lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB), and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants can be used.)
As far as who's the greenest, Nokia still ranks at No. 1, but Greenpeace reduced the company's overall score by one point for "failing to do proactive lobbying" for the RoHS revisions.
The strategy brings an interesting idea to the forefront. With the new criteria, Greenpeace is essentially attempting to harness consumer buying-power to press private industry to pressure politicians.
But does this strategy really work? When picking out a new cell phone or computer, does the average consumer's thought process include a rundown of whether a company has stopped using BFRs in their products and has lobbied to prevent other companies from using them too.
Still, if no one can use a cheap-but-polluting manufacturing material, the playing field is leveled. Lobbying for a revised RoHS could be a win-win for companies that would like to eliminate the use of certain substances but fear creating an advantage for their competition.
Greenpeace asserts there's good reason for the change.
"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 improve their corporate policies and practices," Greenpeace said in a statement.… Read more