The 2017 Guide to Greener Electronics (the Guide) was released by Greenpeace USA. It came with rankings of seventeen of the world’s leading consumer electronics companies. Moreover it also includes supply chain of sustainable manufacturing and design of IT products.
In addition, companies were evaluated based on their transparency. Also their commitment, performance and advocacy efforts. All in three critical areas:
- reduction of greenhouse gases through renewable energy
use of recycled materials
and elimination of hazardous chemicals
Moreover, tech companies claim to be at the forefront of innovation. However, their supply chains are stuck in the Industrial Age. We also know they can change.
Therefore, rather than fueling climate change, IT companies need to show the way forward. Just like Google and Apple have done. Especially with data centers running only on renewable energies. These comments came from Gary Cook. He’s the Senior IT Campaigner at Greenpeace USA.
The average grade across the 17 companies evaluated in the Guide was a D+. Thereby demonstrating that the sector as a whole has work to do. Especially to resolve supply chain impacts. Also to improve product design.
Fairphone, based in the Netherlands, scored best overall with a B. Then followed Apple with a B- Finally Dell and HP with a C+. Consequently, eleven companies, including Samsung, Huawei and Amazon, fall in the D and F range.
In addition, find the full key of rankings here.
So Samsung oy. I mean despite its central position as both the largest manufacturer of smartphones. Also as one of the largest suppliers of displays and still Samsung’s manufacturing system stinks. That’s because it relies heavily on fossil fuels. In 2016, the company used more than 16,000 GWh of energy. Moreover with just 1% coming from renewables.
In addition, the demand for consumer electronics continues to climb. That’s with nearly 2 billion devices sold. I mean in 2016 alone. This drives demand for both finite mined materials. Also as Samsung shows and dirty energy.
Meanwhile, e-waste is growing. All due in part to the short lifespan of devices. The UN has estimated that e-waste globally surpassed 65 million tons in 2017. I mean that’s enough to bury San Francisco to 14 feet.
Key findings of the 2017 Guide to Greener Electronics include:
Supply chain driving demand for dirty energy: Up to 80% of the carbon footprint of electronic devices occurs during manufacturing. While Google, Apple and other internet companies are making progress transitioning their datacenters to renewable energy,
nearly all of the companies in the Guide have yet to address the rapidly growing carbon footprint and dependence on dirty energy in their supply chains. Apple is the only company thus far that has committed to 100% renewable power for its supply chain.
Planned obsolescence as design feature: Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung are among the companies moving in the wrong direction on sustainable product design.
However many of their latest products are difficult to repair or upgrade. HP, Dell, and Fairphone are the notable exceptions to this trend, producing a growing number of products that are repairable and upgradable.
Poor supply chain transparency:
Despite representing the majority of the environmental footprint for most electronic manufacturers, most companies publish little information on their suppliers, keeping their environmental footprint of their supply chain hidden from view. Of the 17 companies evaluated in the Guide, less than one third publishes a basic list of suppliers, keeping their supply chain hidden from view.
Lack of transparency and monitoring of workplace chemicals:
To protect worker health and safety, all companies need to identify and eliminate hazardous chemicals used in the production of their products. That’s in addition to improving worker health and safety due diligence. Apple, Dell, Google, HP and Microsoft are the only companies in the Guide that publish a list of substances that must be restricted in the manufacturing of their devices (MRSL). Including known hazards such as benzene, n-hexane, and toluene.
They are clear of the impacts. Especially this linear take-make-waste business model. It’s employed by device manufacturers and extends beyond the concerns of e-waste. We need to see greater ambition, more transparency. Also follow-through from companies to address the environmental impacts of their enormous supply chains. The current model cannot be maintained. That came from Tim Cook!
Greenpeace is challenging the IT sector. They want them to take responsibility for their rapidly increasing footprint by:
- Shifting their supply chains to run on renewable energy;
Reducing the cycle of constant consumption of more minerals. Also other resources by designing long lasting products. All that use more recycled materials.
Detox their products and their supply chain by finding alternatives to hazardous chemicals.
Now as EcoWatch reports:
Samsung Electronics announced an aim to source 100 percent renewable energy for its power. That’s for all of its factories, office buildings and operational facilities. Furthermore, in the U.S., Europe and China by 2020.
The chosen locations are “well-equipped with infrastructure for the development and transmission of renewable energy.” That’s according to South Korean tech giant. Samsung has 17 of its 38 global manufacturing factories. Also offices and buildings in those markets.
As part of its initial commitment, the company installed around 42,000 square meters of solar panels. All at its headquarters in Suwon. It will also add about 21,000 square meters of solar arrays in addition to geothermal power generation facilities. That’s at its campuses in Pyeongtaek and Hwaseong.
What’s more, the electronics firm plans to work with 100 of its top partner companies. All to assist their own renewable energy targets. Especially in alignment with the Carbon Disclosure Project supply chain program which Samsung intends to join next year.
In addition, The Carbon Disclosure Project’s supply chain program helps organizations and suppliers identify and manage climate change risks including deforestation and water-related issues.
As demonstrated by their expanded commitment, they’re focus is to protect our planet. Ultimately, doing their part as global environmental stewards.
The announcement was celebrated by environmental organizations. Greenpeace noted that Samsung’s commitment is the first from an Asian electronics manufacturing company. It also comes after months of campaigning and global protests. Thereby, pushing the company to set clear renewable energy goals for its operations and supply chain.
According to a Greenpeace press release, renewable energy currently accounts for only 1 percent of Samsung Electronics’ total energy consumption.
Samsung’s move follows efforts made by other major tech brands. In April, Apple announced that its global facilities are now powered with 100 percent clean energy. The same month, Google announced it now purchases more renewable energy than it consumes as a company.