Who is the Greenest PC Maker in the World?

by | Jun 22, 2009

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applepcsAnalysts say going green has become a business plan for some of the biggest personal computer (PC) makers as a way to differentiate themselves from their competition, reports Reuters.

The “green” talk is going over the top as computer makers spar with one another over who has the most “green” platform.

The three major U.S. computer vendors — Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell Inc., and Apple Inc. — say that customers gain real benefits such as lower power consumption in green-certified display screens, says Reuters.

John Spooner, an analyst with Technology Business Research told Reuters that it’s a “green arms race” with everyone trying to one up each other. The good news, he said in the article, is that the PC makers’ green efforts will benefit their companies, customers and the environment.

These efforts include Dell’s recycling program, Apple’s drive to develop toxic-free and energy-efficient notebooks, and HP’s efforts to develop products aimed at reducing energy use and GHG emissions, and sustainability in products, packaging, and performance.

Dell also claims to be the first major computer manufacturer to ban the export of electronic waste to developing countries as part of its global policy on responsible electronics disposal.

Dell, Apple, and HP are considered some of the top U.S. green tech leaders by GreenFactor, a global technology and environmental research initiative.

But which PC maker makes the greenest products? Based on their claims, Reuters reports that Dell says it wants to become the “greenest technology company on Earth”; Apple claims it has the “greenest family of notebooks”; and HP focuses on its long tradition of environmentalism as well as the market size to effect change.

Some of these claims are causing contention in the industry.

As an example, Dell recently called Apple’s green MacBook ads misleading for calling the Macbook line “the world’s greenest family of notebooks,” reports the New York Times’ Green Inc. blog.

Dell had several issues with the claims, which included the usage of greenest family of notebooks and Apple’s reliance on the Green Electronics Council’s Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) “gold” ratings, which it says, along with several competitors, has some “environmental blind spots,” reports The Green Inc. blog.

After a review of the claims, the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus concluded that consumers “could reasonably take away the message that a ‘family’ of notebooks is a line of products and not all the products produced by a manufacturer.”

NAD recommended that Apple modify its “world’s greenest family of notebooks” claim, “to make clearer that the basis of comparison is between all MacBooks to all notebooks made by a given competitor” and to “avoid the reference to ‘world’s greenest’ given the potential for overstatement.”

An Apple spokesman, Steve Dowling, wrote in an e-mail message to The Green Inc. blog that his company was pleased with the ruling, and that every Apple notebook met the new Energy Star 5.0 specification out of the box and is made using mercury-free LED backlighted displays and PVC-free components.

Nonprofit environmental groups have backed Apple’s efforts to reduce the environmental impact of its PCs, reports Reuters. Greenpeace International in 2007 applauded Apple’s commitment to phase out by 2008 the use of toxic chemicals that could affect human health.

But Greenpeace’s latest update to its Guide to Greener Electronics found that HP, Lenovo and Dell won’t meet their promise to eliminate vinyl plastic (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) from their products by the end of 2009.

Sarah Westervelt, a spokeswoman for the Basel Action Network, an environmental nonprofit, told Reuters that Apple was perhaps the earliest PC maker to commit itself to reducing the environmental impact of its products. But no matter how green they are, laptops from all manufacturers will continue to have toxins, she said in the article.

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