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Green Design

The Ultimate Solution: Green Design

What Are Green Electronics?

While most electronics manufacturers like to talk about their “green” products, electronics are still made with a lengthy list of toxic materials, which are problematic both in production and when it comes time to recycle or dispose of these products. See Toxics in E-Waste.

The Electronics TakeBack Coalition encourages the industry to adopt Green Engineering Principles, which consider the entire life cycle of the product (including product recycling/end of life) when the product is designed. Too often, designers ignore the end-of-life phase of the product, and we end up with products which are challenging to recycle, both because of materials chosen as well as physical design.

Frequently companies say their products are “green,” but when you examine these marketing claims, you find they have simply implemented the ROHS requirements (Reduction of Hazardous Materials) which are legally mandated by the European Union, or because they have implemented some energy savings measures. While both are important steps, these two things alone are far from making a toxic product “green.”

How Can Consumers Find Green Products?

We will warn you now, you won’t like this answer. There really are no “green” electronics yet. There are far too many toxic chemicals used in these products for them to qualify as green. But there are some modest steps towards sustainability that some companies have taken. There is no single place where consumers can look for this information, however.  But we have compiled the sources you can use to find the “greenest” products available  on our BUY GREEN ELECTRONICS page.

Tell The Companies You Want Green Electronics

The electronics companies respond to consumer demand, over and above all other factors. And honestly, they mostly don’t believe that consumers really care about whether their products are green – especially not if it means they will cost more. So if you DO care, then let them know. If you have decided to make a purchase of one product over another because of the company’s green improvements, let them know.

Electronics Companies Take Step Backwards on Toxic Chemicals

Nokia, Sony-Ericsson lead on chemical phase outs

See the latest Greenpeace Electronics Scorecard (October 2010) showing many companies losing points and getting lower grades for failing to live up to commitments to phase out toxic PVC and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) by the end of 2009 or other deadlines. Philips got high marks for launching the first TV free from BFRs and PVC (not sold in the U.S. however).  Acer and HP have also now launched BFR/PVC free product lines (catching up to Apple, which did this a year ago for all its products).  Mobile phone makers Nokia and Sony-Ericsson got the highest marks for their chemical policies. Toshiba, LGE, Samsung, Dell and Lenovo still have no whole PC product lines free from these substances.

Link to more resources on Green Design