Environmental organisation Greenpeace has rated mobile phone giant Nokia highly for its eco-friendly policies, but gave low marks to Lenovo, Motorola and Apple, among others.
Greenpeace, which publishes the Green Electronics Guide every three months, evaluates companies on their use of hazardous chemicals, recycling and take-back policies. It uses information published by the companies.
Nokia scored highly for eliminating its use of PVCs (polyvinyl chlorides), which are widely used but difficult-to-recycle plastics that cause the release of dioxin, another toxin, when manufactured. The Finnish company plans to stop using BFRs (brominated flame retardants) by the start of 2007, Greenpeace said.
Lenovo, which took over IBM's PC business in May 2005, came last on Greenpeace's list. The company has not committed to eliminating PVCs or BFRs or defined a "precautionary principle", a set of guidelines governing actions that could cause environmental damage, according to Greenpeace. The vendor also has a limited take-back policy in some countries that Greenpeace called "partially bad".
Lenovo disputed the findings, saying it offers recycling to all of its business customers – a service not detailed on its website. Lenovo has continued IBM's Environmental Management System, which covers manufacturing and product design, and is meshing that system with its own, pre-existing environmental policy, it said.
"Lenovo meets or exceeds applicable environmental regulations globally, and we don't believe Greenpeace's ranking accurately reflects Lenovo's environmental record," the company said in a statement.
Apple also received a low score, appearing fourth from bottom of the list – above Acer, Motorola and Lenovo.
"For a company that claims to lead on product design, Apple scores badly on almost all criteria," Greenpeace said.
Apple doesn't publish a list of regulated substances it uses in its products, Greenpeace said. The firm has not released timelines for eliminating PVCs and BFRs, and only sells a few peripheral items free of PVCs.
While Apple has take-back programmes in place in some countries, it reports the weight of recycled products and not the percentage of sales, Greenpeace said. Apple received one positive mark, for not exporting e-waste, an issue for developing countries that may mishandle hardware with toxic substances.
Apple said it disagreed with Greenpeace's ratings and criteria. The company said it has eliminated CRT monitors containing lead from its product lines, along with cadmium and hexavalent chromium in manufacturing.
A small amount of mercury is used in Apple's flat-panel displays, as the element is used throughout the industry for backlight lamps, the vendor said. Apple is looking for an alternative.
None of the companies scored perfectly. Even first-place Nokia, for example, doesn't release figures on the number of units it recycles, according to Greenpeace. The vendor should also more clearly define its precautionary principle, the environmental group said.
Other companies that scored well for their environmental policies were Dell and HP.
The Greenpeace list is here.