Fairphone and Apple lead the way on Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics which is published this week, with big-name companies like Amazon, Samsung, and Huawei receiving failing grades.
Greenpeace scores 17 of the world’s leading tech companies in its latest Guide to Greener Electronics based on company transparency, performance, and advocacy efforts across three areas Greenpeace deemed critical to putting the tech sector on a sustainable path — reduction of emissions through renewable energy, use of recycled materials, and elimination of hazardous chemicals.
“Tech companies claim to be at the forefront of innovation, but their supply chains are stuck in the Industrial Age,” said Gary Cook, Senior IT Campaigner at Greenpeace USA. “We know they can change. Rather than fueling climate change, these companies need to show the way forward, just as some companies like Google and Apple have with data centers run on renewables.”
Given Greenpeace’s critical marking system and its decades-long campaigning to clean up various industries such as the tech industry, it is unsurprising that no company scored an A on this year’s Guide. Fairphone received the highest grade with a B, followed by Apple with a B-. Dell and HP both scored C+ while Lenovo and Microsoft both scored a C-. The remaining companies — Acer, LG, Sony, Google, Huawei, ASUS, Samsung, Amazon, Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi — all scored between D+ and F.
Looking at the industry from a birds eye point of view, Greenpeace published several key findings. Up to 80% of a device’s carbon emissions occur during manufacturing, and while Apple, Google, and other internet companies are making progress transitioning their data centers to renewable energy (a service which would fall outside of a device’s manufacturing period), most companies have yet to address their rapidly growing carbon footprint and reliance upon dirty supply chains.
Out of these companies, only Apple has committed to transitioning to 100% renewable energy for its supply chain.
Another key finding from Greenpeace’s report is that “planned obsolescence as a design feature” — which is to say, Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung are among a number of companies that are manufacturing products that are unsustainable and difficult to repair or upgrade.
Further, a lack of transparency on supply chain impacts for most companies — including Amazon, Google, Huawei — means that companies are simply not revealing the environmental footprint of their supply chains.
As such, Greenpeace leaves off by challenging the tech sector to take responsibility for its rapidly increasing carbon footprint by:
- shifting their supply chains to be renewably powered
- reducing the cycle of constant consumption of more minerals and other resources by designing long lasting products that use more recycled materials
- detoxing their products and their supply chain by finding alternatives to hazardous chemicals
“It’s clear the impacts of the linear take-make-waste business model of device manufacturers extend beyond the concerns of e-waste. We need to see greater ambition, more transparency, and follow through from companies to address the environmental impacts of their enormous supply chains. The current model cannot be maintained,” said Cook.
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