Majority of tech giants fail Greenpeace environmental survey

Apple and Samsung going wrong direction for sustainable product design

The ranking of 17 tech firms is based on energy, resource and chemicals used in making their products and services, and each company is given a grade between A and F. The majority of a device's energy footprint - as much as 80 per cent - comes from the manufacturing process.

The group's "USA Guide to Greener Electronics" said numerous biggest technology companies failed to deliver on commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and were still reluctant to commit fully to renewable energy.

However, the remaining 11 companies in the list - including Samsung, Sony, Google, Huawei and Amazon - all fell in the D to F range.

Energy, or the reduction of greenhouse gases through renewable energy; resource consumption issues like sustainable design and use of recycled materials; and chemicals, specifically the elimination of hazardous materials in products and the manufacturing process, were mainly considered in the study this year.

"Tech companies claim to be at the forefront of innovation, but their supply chains are stuck in the Industrial Age".

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The report is damning in its indictment of the complicity of tech firms in the slow degradation of the environment. We know they can change.

"In the next three to five years, the use of renewable energy and how well the companies cope with climate change will determine their core competitiveness", said Lee Insung, a Greenpeace campaigner, according to the Associated Press.

"Samsung is both the largest manufacturer of smartphones worldwide and a supplier of key components to numerous other brands in the guide, yet the company is holding the sector back by failing to tackle its climate change responsibility by committing to 100pc renewable energy for its operations".

The report also called out the practice of planned obsolescence implemented by many companies that accelerates device replacement cycles by "making them hard to service or upgrade, shortening the useful life of otherwise functional devices". Chinese smartphone-makers Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo scored below average in all categories and lacked transparency and commitment in renewable energy, the report said. We need to see greater ambition, more transparency, and follow through from companies to address the environmental impacts of their enormous supply chains. More than 80 per cent of the carbon footprint of electronic devices occurs during the manufacturing stage, but Greenpeace said the majority of companies in its rankings have yet to address their reliance on dirtier forms of energy and many continue to produce devices that are hard to upgrade or recycle. "The current model can not be maintained", said Cook.

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