E-cycle ratings ring good tone for motivation, but lack harmony

Dec 22, 2006 | 10:26 AM | Paul Schaffer

Can public praise and censure coax electronics manufacturers to quicken their pace in producing equipment that is easy to recycle and low in toxics? Most likely, but a lack of consensus among popular ratings systems still leaves much room for improvement.

Advocacy group Greenpeace International, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, claims some influence in speeding up the production pace of e-friendly equipment. The group, which has issued an updated ratings guide only four months after the first version came out in August, said that this time around it received better questionnaire responses from Acer Inc., Taipei, Taiwan; Lenovo Group Ltd., formerly located in China but now based in Raleigh, N.C.; LG Electronics Inc., Seoul, South Korea; Motorola Inc., Schaumburg, Ill.; and Panasonic Corp., Osaka, Japan.

To some extent, Greenpeace is piggybacking on tightening European Union rules governing electronics equipment sold there. All international companies selling into Europe have been obliged to review practices and policies affecting pollution, product design and potential for recycling materials.

The intention of ratings systems is to influence the priorities and scope of a process already under way. Aside from the Greenpeace system, the other main ratings system is the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (Epeat) fostered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Unfortunately for purchasing managers hoping the ratings systems are definitive, the two systems don't always agree on who the good guys are.....

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