Apple has fallen to No. 6 in the Greenpeace International Guide to Greener Electronics. The study released Monday, which scores companies on policies and practices and provides a snapshot of sustainability, could give marketers a headache when tying Apple iOS products to campaigns related to eco-friendly keywords.
In 2011, Apple ranked No. 4, up from No. 9 in the year prior.
Greenpeace cites the lower 4.6 score for lack of transparency on GHG emission reporting, clean energy advocacy, further information on its management of toxic chemicals and details on post-consumer recycled plastic use. The guide evaluates leading consumer electronics companies, based on their commitment and progress in Energy and Climate, Greener Products, and Sustainable Operations.
Although low scores for lack of transparency isn't surprising, given Apple's closed ad network and operating system standards, Greenpeace gave the company kudos for product efficiencies and ewaste program. On Apple's Web site, the company describes how its products meet or exceed the U.S. Environmental Production Agency's Energy Star guidelines for efficiency. Apple products are at least twice as efficient as the standard, and in many cases, such as the Mac Mini, six times as efficient.
Earlier this year, Greenpeace produced and uploaded a spoof video on its YouTube channel. The video, Introducing iCoal, or rather iCloud, explains how the things consumers do on mobile phones have an impact on the world. "Apple powers its iCloud with dirty energy," the announcer said. "Tell them to think differently."
The Greenpeace ranking looks for efficiencies to support everything from Internet use and servers that target ads to mobile phones.
Google, along with Microsoft, will need to think differently, as the two companies begin to dabble in hardware. Through the years, Google continues to focus on alternative power sources, such as windmill farms. Last week, the company announced a deal to invest $75 million in the Rippey Wind Farm, Greene County, Iowa.
The wind farm, located about 130 miles northeast of Council Bluffs, Iowa, supports one of Google's eight data centers powering its search engine and other services. A Web site details Google's approximate $1 billion in investments.
Google doesn't rank in the Green Peace Guide, but with the company's push into hardware it will need an ewaste program.
Apple receives half marks in Sustainable Operations, but low in e-waste criteria, losing points for lacking a good take-back program in India. The company reported that 2010 global recycling exceeded its 70% goal, as a percentage of sales seven years ago, a level the company said it will maintain through 2015.
Greenpeace gave the top spot to Wipro, an Indian electronics outsourcing services and electronics company, followed by Hewlett-Packard, Nokia, Acer, Dell, Apple, Samsung, Sony, Lenovo, Philips, Panasonic, LG, HCL, Sharp, Toshiba and RIM.