Apple is leading the consumer electronics sector in addressing its environmental footprint, according to a new Greenpeace report.
The environmental group has released the study ahead of the IFA electronics show in Berlin, which evaluates the progress and future challenges for 16 leading consumer electronics companies on the elimination of hazardous chemicals, reducing their energy footprint and building sustainable supply chains.
According to the report more than 50 per cent of the mobile phone market, represented by Samsung, Apple and Nokia, is now free from the worst hazardous substances – Polyvinylchloride (PVC) and Brominated flame retardants (BFRs).
But, Apple remains the only company to have eliminated the use of these substances in all its products and recently announced further steps on chemical elimination in production.
Greenpeace UK’s head of IT, Andrew Hatton said: “Apple has shown us a glimpse of a greener future, leading the sector on toxic-free products and starting to address the huge environmental footprint of electronics manufacturing. But the industry still has a long road ahead of it before they’re giving customers the level of efficiency and sustainability they are asking for.”
The report also shows that Samsung, the world’s biggest electronics company, has failed to meet its elimination goals for products beyond mobiles, joining Dell in backtracking on previous public phase out commitments.
New players in the tablet and mobile markets are continuing to lag behind too – Microsoft have dropped their previous phase-out commitment, and rival Amazon is failing to provide any information to the public.
The report identifies supply chain transparency and the elimination of all hazardous chemicals from across the supply chain as key next steps for the industry.
Electronics companies should follow in the footsteps of the textiles sector, according to the report, which has provided a credible and applicable model to imitate – 20 global textile companies have now committed to eliminating all hazardous chemicals by 2020 and many are implementing changes throughout the supply chain from the products to manufacturing hubs like China.
The findings also reveal that overall, electronics companies are failing to address their growing energy footprint as the manufacturing of phones, laptops and other devices requires a huge amount of energy, most of which is concentrated in East Asia where coal dominates energy production.
Some companies, like Lenovo and Huawei, are setting a positive example with small solar installations on factories, while Apple is planning the first 100 per cent renewable energy factory to make iPhone screens. However, only with ambitious targets to expand renewable energy use in supply chains will reduce the carbon footprint of our gadgets.
“The innovative electronics industry is perfectly placed to reimagine their manufacturing and marketing processes. They’re designing our future, and we need that future to be a lot cleaner and greener than where we are now,” added Hatton.
The full report is available on the Grenepeace website.