Sony Takes First in Greenpeace Green IT Survey; Still has a Long Way to Go

Sony Takes First in Greenpeace Green IT Survey; Still has a Long Way to Go

By producing the only products to score over the 50 percent mark in a survey of business and consumer electronics products, Sony's Vaio notebook and a Sony Ericsson mobile phone and PDA were the most environmentally friendly models on the market -- but the results show just how far the industry as a whole has to come.

Greenpeace, which has been releasing a quarterly ranking of electronics manufacturers, released a similar survey during this week's CeBIT conference.

The survey, "Searching for Greener Electronics," studied 37 products voluntarily submitted by 14 electronics manufacturers on four sets of criteria: energy efficiency, use of hazardous materials, product lifecycle and innovation / marketing, awarding points on a 1 to 10 scale. Although Sony swept the winners with models in the notebook computer, mobile phone and PDA categories, those products were notable only because they were the sole products to break the 5-point limit.

Despite the rather dismal rankings for the bulk of these products, Greenpeace said that its findings do suggest that the industry is taking significant steps toward green electronics. The report's authors find that the industry is moving out in front of existing regulations, like RoHS and WEEE, and that manufacturers and purchasers alike are quickly responding to the demand for toxic-free and energy efficient products, despite years of neglect on both of those fronts.

Even though the manufacturing side may be stepping up to the task, Greenpeace found that all the companies in its survey are still not taking a product's entire lifecycle into account -- working as hard on end-of-life concerns like recycling and reuse as they are on minimizing the impacts of production in the first place.

The survey looked at four classes of electronics products: Desktop computers, notebook computers, mobile phones and PDAs. Sony's Vaio TZ11 led the notebook category with a score of 5.29, its Sony Ericsson T650i ranked highest in the mobile phone category with a 5.30 score, and the Sony Ericsson P1i led PDAs with 5.10 points. In the desktop category, the Dell Optiplex 755 and HP's dc5750 tied for the lead, scoring 4.71.

Overall low rankings notwithstanding, the report does emphasize progress in the quest for greener, cleaner electronics. It singles out the new Apple MacBook Air laptop and Nokia's Evolve phone charger as examples of innovative, toxics-free and energy efficient design.

Apple did not submit any products for review in this survey, although it showed significant gains in last year's Greenpeace report cards, moving from last place to the middle of the pack. Also among the companies not submitting products for review was Nintendo, which Greenpeace slammed in the latest report card by starting it off in last place with zero points for failure to disclose its environmental data.

The full survey, "Searching for Greener Electronics," is available for download from GreenerComputing.com.