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ard. "In reality, Apple is ahead of all of Nokia, which held.the No. 1 slot with REUTERS BREAKINGVIEWS
Green guide these companies in eliminating toxic
chemicals from its products."
an overall score of 7.3, was nonetheless
penalized one point on the Greenpeace
rankings for "failing to do proactive
In November 2007, after the blog Bo-
disputed, but ing Boing questioned.GreenpeaceS
rankings — then in its fifth iteration —
an anonymous commentator said,
lobbying" for a revised directive. Mi-
crosoft, which finished second to last,
was similarly criticized,
It may be time to run with the <
Oil bulls and bears have each had their pri
influential "Greenpeace is an evil organization
that the press (and blogs in general)
should ignore until it dies."
"A lot of companies have made com-
mitments," said Casey Harrell, a lead
toxics campaigner with Greenpeace In-
triumphs in recent history. The price of
crude rose to $147 a barrel in July 2008,
only to plummet to $33 a barrel a few
Last week, against the backdrop of ternational, "but when'it's time to cash months later. It swung past $82 abarrel ere
the International Consumer Electron- in'the chips, some are still dragging last week because of the cold snap, and thr
ics Show in Las^/egas — the industry's their feet. We're beginning to see some is up 18 percent since mid-December. t
premier eveht|$t Greenpeace an- separation among the companies be- But barring heightened tension in the grc
nounced the 14th edition of its "Guide// " tween the talkers and the doers." Middle East, oil looks likely to slide in de'
to Greener Electronics." Whether consumers bother to con- the short term. em
This time, Nokia still holds the top sult Greenpeace's scores — or any oth- Demand remains relatively subdued, Bu
Tom slot, while Nintendo, the Japanese er rating system, for that matter — is
an open question. And even if they do,
in spite of the huge stimulus applied to
the global economy. This is especially
to (
game console maker, brings up the rear.
Zeller Jr. Greenpeace's guide is certainly not the absence of a universally agreed- true in the United States, the world's for
the only game in town — and critics in- upon definition for what it means to be largest consumer of energy, and other ulti
side and outside the electronics indus- "green" tends to undermine any par- members of the Organization for Eco- sh£
try have pointed to other measure- KIMMO MANTYLA/LEHTIKUVA ticular scorecard's claim to having the nomic Cooperationjjnd Development. 1
ments, including the Electronic Nokia was ranked first in Greenpeace's full view of things. U.S. crude oil inventories actually rose daj
Product Envirjjginental Assessment 14th "Guide to Greener Electronics," "In addition to awarding seals of by 1.3 million barrels last week, when gar
NEW YORK In August 2006, Green- Tool, or Epeat,Wveloped by the U.S. supposed greenness to products, or- temperatures plummeted, according to Coi
peace took its first stab at ranking the Environmental Protection Agency, as ganizations and publications are also the latest figures from the Department fiel
green bona fides of 14 makers of con- being more fair, more comprehensive options for completing the phaseout increasingly grading corporations, in- of Energy. Elsewhere among O.E.C.D. else
sumer electronics. In a nutshell, the ap- or otherwise preferable to the Green- and will be providing an updated cluding many electronics and technol- members, oil inventories have fallen, tha
praisals hinged on the elimination of peace rankings. (Greenpeace has said timeline at the appropriate time." ogy companies, on their environmental but only slightly, according to the Inter- ing
certain hazardous chemicals and a will- that Epeat's criteria are less stringent.) To be sure, the problems associated policies and practices," a science and national Energy Agency. They are still ave
ingness to take responsibility for But whatever might be said of its with certain chemicals commonly used policy analyst with Consumers Union, high, at nearly 60 days of demand. the
products across their life cycles, methods and accuracy, there is little in consumer electronics is a pressing Kristi Wiedemann, wrote on the Con- Other factors could weigh on the wit
through take-back programs, recycling question that the Greenpeace guide one. sumer Reports' blog on electronics last
and other efforts. has become an influential fixture on the Along with the more widely known autumn. "As with the products seals,
the result is information that's useful in
On that first assessment, Nokia, the
Finnish cellphone maker, and Dell, the
consumer electronics scene — and few
companies seem willing anymore to
toxins like mercury and lead, modern
electronics are suffused with bromine- some ways, and limited in others."
Weighing, the risks of British pc
Texas-based computer maker, fared quibble with the rankings publicly. and chlorine-based compounds used Still, there seems to be little question Britain's electoral arithmetic has its fis- 1
well. Lenovo, the Chinese computer "H.P. has a broad environmental sus- chiefly as inexpensive flame retardants that from a public relations perspec- cal risks. The recent failed putsch tioi
hardware maker, came in dead last. tainability strategy, which is inforrned in the manufacture of plastics and elec- tive, such scrutiny — particularly against Gordon Brown will help the op- trac
No company enjoyed being on the in part by our work with environmental tronic components. Greenpeace's variety — is pushing the position Tories. And although the prime the
list, and it was, by many accounts, a stakeholder groups including Green- These materials can leach into the electronics industry at least to pay minister has hung onto power, it is only enji
crude assemblage. "It's not at all clear peace; W.W.F., Tn'e environment in a variety of ways — not some lip-service, however grudgingly, by his fingertips. The signs of disarray Cat
to us what Greenpeace based this re- Sustainability Con- least when electronic components end to fundamental environmental con- within his Labour Party will probably sec
The problems
port on," a representative of the Elec- sortium and others," up in huge, smoldering landfills in the cerns. trouble voters and make it hard to als<
tronics Industry Association said to a associated present a credible campaign in the cit I
said a spokeswoman developing world, where a bustling "We appreciate Greenpeace'seffort
reporter at Inside Green Business, a with certain for H.P., which was after-market trade in electronic pieces to inform consumers about consumer coming election. the:
now defunct publication, shortly after chemicals ranked 11th among and parts ensures that people and the electronics companies' progress m£j But David Cameron's Tories still cut
the rankings were announced. used in elec- the 18 companies in plaijgt absorb a variety of oozing and ward environmental sustainabili»| don't have a clear lead. The ground the L
Eight months later, as the third edi- tronics is a the guide. gaSSmitted poisons. ..'•.'.- , »»»»,,. said Jennifer Boone Bemisderfer,||£e- party lost in the 1990s — not just to La- isn'
tion of Greenpeace's list arrived, a tech- pressing one. Each company re- A directive that went into effect in"" ~ nior manager specializing in.envir&i- bour but to the Liberal Democrats— Par
nology columnist at BusinessWeek ceives an overall the European Union in 2006, called the mental policy at the Consumer Ele& has not been made up. That raises the ser
magazine, Arik Hesseldahl, wrote, score between 1 Restriction on Hazardous Substances, tronics Association, the industry's \ possibility of a hung Parliament, with woi
"There goes Greenpeace again, making (bad) and 10 (good), which determines restricts the use of a handful of toxic leading trade organization. the Lib Dems holding the balance of Mr.
noise with no substance to back it up." its place in the rankings. substances in consumer electronics, in- , "Subjective ranking systems can be power. In some outlooks that would be thr<
Apple, meanwhile, having become a Samsung — which fell to a score of cluding mercury, cadmium and lead. useful and certainly gain attention for good for fiscal discipline; in others, bad. defi
favorite whipping boy for the organiza- 5.1.from 6.1, andto a middling 7th in the. The directive, which covers a variety list producers," Ms. Bemisderfer said. One possibility is a Lib-Lab coalition. hav
tion's list makers (the company ranked overall rankin|j|from second place — of products made in and imported to "While there is much more to be done, Brown's overtures to the Lib Dems ten
last in the edition published April, was accused bypSreenpeace of "back- the European Union, has served as a de the fact is that consumer electronics have begun. A main issue is whether will
2007), went on the offensive. tracking on its commitment to elimi- facto restriction on manufacturers are more energy-efficient and more re- Labour would be prepared to concede a In s
"In one environmental group's re- nate brominated flame retardants worldwide who want access to the sponsibly produced than at any time in change in the electoral system to intro- and
cent scorecard, Dell, H.P. and Lenovo (B.F.R.'s) in new models of all products European market. history. duce proportional representation, ing.
all scored higher than Apple because of by January 2010," among other short- European leaders are considering an which would favor the Lib Dems. If La- gen
their plans (or 'plans for releasing comings. i expansion of the list of chemicals ONLINE: THE GREEN INC. BLOG bour were prepared to —and it might, mal
plans' in the case of H.P.)," Steven P. The company said Friday that it re- covered by the directive — and public It Tom Zeller Jr., Kate Galbraith and since this might be its only realistic —
Jobs, chief executive of Apple, said in a mained "committed to completing the support for doing so has become a cri- James Kanter report daily on energy, the chance of hanging onto power —that ®f
statement published on its Web site removal of broAuiated flame retard- terion forjudging companies on Green- environment and the bottom line. could clinch the support of the Lib For
that year, referring to Hewlett-Pack- ants" and " w a f f e currently evaluating peace's green electronics guide. grueii Dems. • •- \

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