Greenpeace: Apple Now Excels in One of Three Categories

The Greenpeace Guide to Consumer Electronics has been ranking "the 18 top manufacturers of personal computers, mobile phones, TVs and games consoles according to their policies on toxic chemicals, recycling and climate change" on a 10-point scale since August 2006. Apple started off back then with a dismal 2.7 ranking and everyone from Greenpeace to Vertatique has been calling on Apple to do better. It earned at 5.1 in the latest Greenpeace rankings, although it is not yet a top performer. This has not stopped Apple apologists from declaring victory.

Greenpeace published a special page in its latest report highlighting one of its three criteria. "This new chart shows which of those companies have eliminated the most harmful chemicals from their product ranges." Apple tops the chart in all four CE product categories and well deserves this specific recognition.

Four companies - Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Philips, Toshiba - performed better across all three criteria, leaving Apple in a five-way tie for fifth place. Greenpeace confused the issue by titling the toxics-only page "Which companies really sell greener electronics", even though the first sentence provides a hot link to the all-criteria chart: "Our ranking guide, published since 2006, shows clearly how the 18 top consumer electronics companies line up."

Apple proponents have seized on Greenpeace's ambiguous page title to misinterpret the entire rankings. AppleInsider, for example, trumpeted the headline, "Greenpeace ranks Apple as greenest electronics maker" above a story that does not discuss the totality of the Greenpeace rankings. Unfortunately, stories like this have now been reposted and retweeted countless times.

This does a disservice to all. The companies that out-performed Apple don't get the recognition they deserve. Apple, finishing in the top 9 out of 18, doesn't get the push it needs from its community. Publications like AppleInsider look like less than diligent information providers. And the tweetosphere ups its quantity of Green ICT viral disinformation.

Apple's customers* and other stakeholders can best serve it by urging the company to excel across all three criteria.

* I use a MacBook and an iPod.