How green are green gadgets?

Discarded computer cases in Ghana
Discarded computer cases in Ghana

When you’re buying new electronics products there’s lots to consider. A few years ago there was practically zero information if you wanted to make an environmentally sounder choice. The huge problems caused by the dumping of old electronics in places like Ghana was only just starting to be recognized. Fast forward to 2009 and there’s a plethora of competing claims made by companies and much more awareness that simply dumping your old gear is a bad idea.

Clearly there’s now demand for greener gadgets, a fact confirmed by recent research from the US Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) on demand for green products. Tellingly the BBC highlights that

“More than 38% of those interviewed by the CEA said they were confused by green product claims and 58% wanted to know the specific attributes that prompted hi-tech firms to label their products green. Many, said Mr Koening, were also very sceptical about the claims many manufacturer’s made for their products.”

Now that’s exactly were Greenpeace’s new Greener Products Survey released today comes in. Back in March 2008 we released our first survey of the greenest electronics products on the market on the basis of toxic chemicals use, recycling and durability and energy efficiency. The first results were distinctly under whelming with most products not even getting more than 5/10.

Almost a year later here are the top products in summary:

Lenovo Monitor: The Lenovo L2440x wide computer monitor scored highest with 6.9/10 and is far ahead of the competition in the monitor category.

Sharp LC-52GX5 television (5.92)

Samsung F268 mobile phone (5.45)

Nokia 6210 Smart phone (5.2)

Toshiba Portege R600 Notebook 5.57

Lenovo ThinkCentre M58 Desktop (5.88)

However no product scored high enough across all areas to deserve the accolade of a truly ‘green product’. Unfortunately if you are in the market for a new electronics product it’s still a choice between a product that is green in one area but not in another.

This week, Greenpeace is at the consumer electronic industry biggest trade show of the year – CES in Las Vegas. Essentially a massive homage to all the latest, greatest products of 2009 it’s all about driving consumption of new gadgets – a distinctly unsustainable trend. The organizers are talking up the green theme this year.

Fortunately green claims are coming under increasing scrutiny not just from US but also in the tech media – GigaOM has a good summary to start with, CNET has a wider view, Inhabitat is on the look out for green gadgets. Interestingly CEA has taken over the original Inhabitat greener gadgets conference this year – which might be good or bad (if it makes it an uncritical event to just market more products).

Over the next 4 days at CES our team will be on the ground to sort real innovation from marketing fluff and meet industry insiders to cast a critical and independent eye over progress in electronics towards greener products. Hopefully we can help resolve some of the confusion and help push the industry further and faster towards being more sustainable.

Source: Huffington Post

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