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HP Leads Greenpeace's Relaunched Green Electronics Rankings

For four years, Greenpeace published a quarterly "rank and spank" listing of the greenest consumer electronics companies, based on how those companies perform -- and disclose -- on a number of criteria, including energy efficiency, use of toxics, greenhouse gas commitments, renewable energy use and many others.

The last report was published more than a year ago, going dark after 16 editions that tracked a rise and fall of the green fortunes of a number of firms, notably Nokia and Sony Ericsson's steady leadership of the pack, and Nintendo and Microsoft's positions at the bottom of the barrel.

report coverIn the group's latest report, published this morning, you won't find either Nintendo or Microsoft -- and that's just the top-most change in an overhaul of what will now be a twice-yearly ranking.

Among the other changes are a deeper focus on energy issues, notably each company's "Clean Electricity Plan," as well as a look at broader environmental issues that companies in almost any industry face: sourcing sustainable paper and fibers, supply chain management, and greenhouse gas emissions goals and strategies.

You also won't find easy comparisons to previous editions of the report.

"That this really is a new day," Casey Harrell, an analyst and campaigner at Greenpeace, explained in an interview. "We've added enough criteria that it's not completely apples-to-apples to compare with previous versions of the report."

That said, the rankings for the 17th Guide to Greener Electronics are as follow:

  1. HP, 5.9 (out of 10)
  2. Dell, 5.1
  3. Nokia, 4.9
  4. Apple, 4.6
  5. Philips, 4.5
  6. Sony Ericsson, 4.2
  7. Samsung, 4.1
  8. Lenovo, 3.8
  9. Panasonic, 3.6
  10. Sony, 3.6
  11. Sharp, 3.0
  12. Acer, 2.9
  13. LGE, 2.8
  14. Toshiba, 2.8
  15. RIM, 1.6

In addition to Nintendo and Microsoft, also missing from this year's list are Fujitsu and Motorola. The first two were taken out of the rankings because the way Greenpeace structured the latest iteration means that both firms would essentially be ranked based on one or two products; Fujitsu is no longer included because it no longer has a global presence in the consumer electronics market; and Motorola's status on the list is on hiatus until it becomes clear what Google plans to do with it.

New on the list, and starting out at the bottom, is the BlackBerry maker RIM. The company scored at or near the bottom for all categories of criteria except disclosing its emissions and its practice on avoiding conflict minerals in its products.

Hewlett-Packard earned the top spot in part for its greenhouse gas disclosure and its sustainable paper practices -- both areas where HP earned all three possible points in the category. But HP is also a leader in several other areas, especially conflict minerals, toxic chemicals and supply chain management -- all areas that we've covered extensively on

Notable new additions to the criteria that Greenpeace is using include the previously mentioned paper sourcing criteria, but also product life-cycle and durability criteria. For instance, Greenpeace asks how long the company provides spare parts for its devices and how long its standard warranties last as proxies for the anticipated useful life of its products. Or, more bluntly, how much does each company work to avoid planned obsolescence after 12, 16 or 24 months?

All told, the latest rankings hint at a shift in how Greenpeace works with companies in the IT industry. Rather than simply criticizing, the Guide to Greener Electronics is shifting toward pointing the way forward for an industry that has a lot of potential to make the planet greener.

"We're actually trying to be a catalyst for positive change, not just tell people when they're wrong. That's much easier to do," Harrell said. "If we don't care about the change, and are just saying, 'you did it wrong, you're wrong,' that's much easier. It's more complicated and more difficult to do it the way we're trying to do it."

I'll have more on what the Guide to Greener Electronics says about Greenpeace as well as about green IT in the near future. In the meantime, you can download the full report from More details, and past versions of the rankings, are at

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