The Greening of Electronics

A Green Scorecard

Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics is a quarterly ranking of 14 major PC and mobile phone companies. In the December 2006 ranking, Nokia and Dell are at the top of the pack with Apple bringing up the rear. The ranking reflects which of these companies are doing the most to remove toxic chemicals from their products and which companies have good recycling programs. Nokia scores high for its efforts to eliminate toxic chemicals. Apple scored badly on all criteria except recycling. Apparently Apple’s cache with consumers didn’t spill over to the Greenpeace scorecard.

Dell’s recently announced expansion of its recycling program may give its Greenpeace ranking a further boost. Dell’s program features free home pick up of any Dell computer or peripheral and does not require participants to purchase a new product. Pick ups can be scheduled on Dell’s website.

The EPA Standard

Rapidly growing interest in environmentally friendly “green” computers has resulted in more than 300 computers being registered with EPEAT, the new EPA-funded green computer standard released in July, 2006. Nine manufacturers currently participate in the program.

Organizations are now requiring new computers to be EPEAT registered. On January 24, President Bush signed Executive Order 13423 that mandates federal agencies to buy EPEAT registered products. As a result this trend, the number of EPEAT registered products and participating manufacturers is expected to continue to grow.

Compared to traditional computer equipment, all EPEAT-registered computers have reduced levels of cadmium, lead, and mercury to better protect human health and the environment. They are more energy efficient, which reduces emissions of greenhouse gases. They are also easier to upgrade and recycle. In fact, manufacturers must offer safe recycling options for EPEAT registered products.

EPEAT products are identified as EPEAT-Bronze, EPEAT-Silver, or EPEAT-Gold depending on the number of environmental features incorporated in the product. A list of all EPEAT registered products and additional details is available online at www.epeat.net.

Greener Packaging

Greening of electronics goes beyond the devices themselves, there are benefits in redesigning the packaging. For example, HP has announced that its redesigned print cartridge packaging for North America will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 37 million tons in 2007 – the equivalent of taking 3,600 cars off the road for one year. The emissions savings are the result of smaller, lighter packages that both reduce the total carbon footprint of each cartridge and the truck and freighter transportation traffic required to ship them. Newer packaging also contains more recyclable and recycled content.

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