Toshiba, Samsung top latest Greenpeace electronics ranking

Toshiba and Samsung top the latest Greenpeace ranking of consumer electronics companies' environmental performance

Toshiba and Samsung top the latest Greenpeace environmental ranking of consumer electronics companies.

The ranking, which was published on Tuesday, scores the world's largest consumer electronics companies based on their recycling policies and the toxic content of their products.

Toshiba climbed six ranks to tie at the top with previous leader Samsung, thanks to moves towards taking care of the electronic waste generated when its customers discard its products.

Toshiba had previously been a member of the Electronic Manufacturers' Coalition for Responsible Recycling, a U.S. group that favors making consumers contribute to the cost of recycling, but like some other manufacturers it has now left the group.

"This was a major step for Toshiba and follows LG, Samsung and Sony," said Zeina Al Hajj [cq], a campaigner for the Amsterdam-based group.

Toshiba declined to comment on the ranking.

One-time leader Nokia was again penalized for its take-back recycling program. Greenpeace previously found that staff in the Philippines, Thailand, Argentina, Russia and India were not informed about the program or that details of the scheme was not available in a local language. This time around improvements were seen but Russia and India remained problematic.

"They have to prove they are interested in recycling beyond the western world," said Al Hajj.

Had Nokia not been penalized it would have led the new ranking with a record-breaking score of 8.3.

One of the biggest jumps in the ranking since it was first published in August 2006 has been attained by Apple. The PC maker has risen from 2.7 points to 6.7 points in the new edition thanks to new products like the MacBook Air that use less toxic chemicals, said Greenpeace.

However Japan's Nintendo, manufacturer of the hugely popular Wii console and DS handheld gaming device, remains stuck near the bottom. It was introduced in the last survey and immediately became the only company to have ever scored zero. In the new ranking it has risen slightly to 0.3 points.

The low ranking reflects a failure on Nintendo's part to provide detailed information about its environmental policies.

"Nintendo has been sending out a pretty lame response to e-mails on the subject, which tells you mainly about office recycling," wrote the environmental group in a posting on its website.

Nintendo said it couldn't provide detailed comment on the report because it hadn't seen it.

A spokesman for the Kyoto, Japan, company, Yasuhiro Minagawa, said criticism of recycling information supplied with its products was "based on the assumption that recycling is good for the environment."

The next edition of the ranking is due out in June this year. The new ranking will be based on tighter criteria and be expanded to include measurements on energy consumption -- not just of the products but also their production -- and whether the company has eliminated the use of PVC and bromine flame retardants in products.

"It's not enough to tackle energy consumption of the products alone but also the production process and the amount of greenhouse gas emitted," said Al Hajj.

Earlier this month at the Cebit electronics show in Germany the environmental group called for consumer electronics companies to provide more information on the amount of energy used in the production and distribution stages of a product's life.

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service

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