Hanover: Cebit, the world’s biggest technology fair, talks green but the industry has some way to go in improving its environmental credentials, according to Greenpeace, an independent global campaigning organization that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment
French president Nicolas Sarkozy and Lower Saxony’s state governor Christian Wulff are seen during the opening ceremony of the CeBit fair in Hanover, Germany
“Manufacturers still have a long way to go,” Greenpeace campaigner Yannick Vicaire said at CeBIT in Hanover, Germany. “But more are now taking the environmental impacts of their products seriously.”
The environmental pressure group tested 37 products from 14 major electronics brands and awarded them points based on green criteria including the substitution of hazardous substances, energy efficiency and recyclability.
It said that Sony’s Vaio TZ11 notebook, the Sony Ericsson T650i mobile phone and the Sony Ericsson P1i PDA came out on top in the survey, but these products scored just over half of the possible 100 points available, Greenpeace said.
Others at the top of the study included Dell’s Optiplex 755, Hewlett-Packard’s dc5750 desktop computers and the Nokia N95 mobile phone.
Greenpeace said it is challenging electronics manufacturers to take responsibility for the entire lifecycle of their products, from production, through manufacture and to the very end of their products’ lives.
It also wants them to clean up their products by eliminating hazardous substances and replacing harmful ingredients through safer alternatives or design changes while producing energy efficient products, it says.
Nearly 5,500 exhibitors were taking part in the annual CeBIT fair in Hanover, with many keen to trumpet how they say they are doing their bit to lessen the environmental impact of the industry.
Worldwide Internet use needs the equivalent of 14 power stations to power all the PCs and servers, producing the same amount of carbon emissions as the entire airline industry, according to a recent study from Gartner research firm.
But this does not include the emissions created by the manufacture and disposal of the world’s millions of computers, Greenpeace campaigner Zeina Al-Hajj told AFP at CeBIT.
“Even Gartner will tell you that this is a mild estimation because they are only covering use of the products, not the whole production chain,” she said.
The survey also says nothing about the amount of waste generated through a lack of proper recycling, which the United Nations estimates at between 20 and 50 million tonnes annually, she says.
“All electronic devices contain hazardous components ... We have in our hands a huge hazardous waste disaster.”
Much of the waste is shipped “routinely and often illegally” to countries such as China, India and Vietnam where costs are lower and environmental standards more lax, Greenpeace says.