Greenpeace, the international environmental advocacy group, has been keeping track of the tech companies’ progress on sustainability for more than a decade. That resulted in an increase of some companies’ efforts and interest in providing a greener future.
The first annual “Guide to Greener Electronics” (the name of the report) by Greenpeace was released back in 2006. It ranked the top 10 leading electronics manufacturers according to their track record on their use of toxic substances and efforts on takebacks and recycling programs. The first two places were given to Nokia and Dell ( each scored 7 out of 10), and Apple finished near the bottom with a score of 2.7.
However, everything has changed since then. In the 2017 edition of the “guide”, Greenpeace ranked the top 17 manufacturers. The criteria were an adoption of renewable energy, sustainable design, recycling, and usage of hazardous chemicals. Apple has significantly improved and received an overall “B-” grade, placing second on the list.
The only company that has placed higher is Fairphone, a small upstart that designs phones and supply chains without exploiting its workers and harming the environment. It has received “B” grade.
Greenpeace gives a lot of credit for Apple’s progress to its CEO Tim Cook. The first thing that has helped Apple to achieve this score was publicly committing to power its data centers and other operations with 100 percent renewable energy.
“Apple became the first company to extend this commitment to its entire global supply chain in 2014, and has since made impressive progress, securing commitments from 14 suppliers to power their operations with enough renewable energy needed to manufacture Apple devices or components,” reports Greenpeace.
The group was also impressed by Apple’s recently announced goal to completely reuse and recycle parts and materials and eliminate the need to rely on the mining of new materials.
However, this means that the products won’t be designed to be repaired, and users will be forced to buy a new model as soon as the previous product breaks down. However, this design strategy risks jeopardizing customer loyalty and Apple’s reputation.
No other company has shown any significant progress. Dell and HP scored a C+ while Lenovo and Microsoft each got a C-. Acer, LG, Sony, and Google got a D+. Huawei and ASUS got Ds and Samsung got a D-. Amazon, Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi bottomed out the 2017 list with a failing grade of F.