More than 50% of the mobile phone market is now free from the worst hazardous substances. However, Apple remains the only company to have eliminated the use of bad substances in all its products.
The environmental campaigner has measured the tech giants progress towards greening their gadgets and evaluated 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.
Apple leading the way
In the past Apple has been criticized for its environmental performance, however, now the tech-giant is leading the sector on toxic-free products and starting to address the huge environmental footprint of electronics manufacturing.
The report says that Apple is leading the consumer electronics sector in addressing its environmental footprint, leaping ahead of rivals Samsung, who are “failing to match Apple’s leadership”.
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.
50% toxic free
More than half 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). However, Apple remains the only one to have eliminated the use of these substances in all its products and recently announced promising further steps on chemical elimination in production.
Unfortunately, the report reveals 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.
Meanwhile, new players in the tablet and mobile markets continue to lag behind: Microsoft has dropped its 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 to Detox. Other sectors, such as textiles, have shown what is possible, offering a credible and applicable model for electronics companies to follow.
Some companies, like Lenovo and Huawei, are setting a positive example with small solar installations on factories, while Apple is planning the first 100% 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.
In 2014 sales of the most popular consumer electronics are predicted to reach 2.5 billion products. The rapid growth has multiplied the industry’s environmental impact and raised crucial questions around the sustainability of a prevailing business model that promotes ever-increasing consumption. The report highlights this as an essential element for the industry to address in order to meet the urgent and growing environmental crisis.