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Summary:

Greenpeace says its seeing gains in electronics energy efficiency, companies taking financial responsibility for the life cycle of their products, and companies also offering more opportunities for convenient and free take-back of their electronics in most regions of the world.

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Greenpeace International will be at CES again this year. For the third year in a row, we will be bringing our message straight to the industry that greener, more sustainable consumer electronics are possible. We’ve seen marked progress in the industry over the past few years, with some leading companies removing dangerous toxic chemicals from their products, while increasing energy efficiency and making it easier to return older products.

Every each at CES, we notice the slow but steady move toward more sustainable products. This year we will be using our time in Las Vegas to release the 3rd edition of the Greenpeace Product Survey. Just like our last two editions we have once again ranked the greenest desktop computers, notebooks, netbooks, computer monitors, mobile phones, smartphones and televisions available on store shelves in the first quarter of 2011.

All week, we’ll be sharing our thoughts in this space on the state of the sector, what we’re seeing at CES through our green lens, and hoping to connect with readers of Earth2Tech on your demands and ideas for the consumer electronics sector. You can also reach us directly at greenpeace.ces.2011@gmail.com.

Greenpeace’s Work Toward Greener Electronics

Greenpeace began our Green Electronics campaign with two simple demands: clean up the hazardous waste stream by eliminating toxic chemicals in electronics and take back and recycle obsolete products.

By cleaning up all electronic product lines through the elimination of the most toxic chemicals, a manufacturer can guarantee its products are not exposing workers, its own customers, and the environment to hazardous substances. Both PVC and brominated flame retardants  (BFRs), found in many electronics, have been linked to devastating health effects, and the millions of tons of e-waste dumped every year are often burnt in open pit fires to obtain scrap metal.

Due to the highly competitive nature of this industry, we knew that the most effective approach would be to rank the companies against each other on these two important issues. We created The Guide to Greener Electronics, which launched in August 2006 and quickly became the most effective tool in the campaign. As the world’s dependence on electronic devices has increased over the years and climate change became more pressing, we added energy use to our ranking in 2008

Progress Seen and Felt

The 16th edition of our Guide was published in October 2010, and we’re seeing many of the types of transformative change we hoped for when we began our campaign. Apple, Nokia and Sony Ericsson began to phase out the most toxic substances from their products, and eager to not lose face, other companies began to follow their lead (sometimes with a bit of encouragement).

Many regular CES exhibitors, including Acer, Indian companies Wipro and HCL, Hewlett Packard and Philips, are now offering smart phones, computers, monitors and televisions, free of the most toxic chemicals, such as BFRs and PVC,

We are seeing similar gains in product energy efficiency, companies taking financial responsibility for the life cycle of their products, and offering more opportunities for convenient and free take-back of their products in most regions of the world. This is especially crucial in areas outside of the EU that do not yet have e-waste laws to prevent the exportation of obsolete electronics to underdeveloped nations with little to no infrastructure to handle their safe recycling.

While there is still plenty of room for improvement, the electronics industry has steadily made progress in creating more sustainable products, a new reality that we will dive deeper in to this week at CES. Hope you can join us for the ride.

You can reach Greenpeace at CES directly at greenpeace.ces.2011@gmail.com.

Image courtesy of Greenpeace.

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By Daniel Kessler, Greenpeace

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