Indian technology company Wipro cracked into the Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics at the No. 1 spot, a memorable feat that knocked off last year's top dog HP. Apple took a hit in the rankings.
Wipro scored 7.1 out of a possible 10 points in the guide that ranks global electronics companies based on their commitment and progress in energy and climate, greener products and sustainable operations. HP finished second with 5.7 points.
Greenpeace, an environmental advocacy group, attributed Wipro's hefty score to its efforts to embrace renewable energy and support of green energy policies in India. The company also got high marks for post-consumer electronic waste collection for recycling and for phasing out hazardous substances from its products.
"Wipro has set a new benchmark for sustainability, not only in India but across the globe, that will have a long-term impact in shaping the green energy debate in the electronics industry," Greenpeace India Senior Campaigner Aphishek Pratap said in a statement.
HP had the highest score among American companies on the list. HP is still above most companies on the ranking, according to the guide.
The company scores most of its points, and is the leader, in the sustainable operations criteria, which includes the management of its supply chain, according to the guide.
Electronics companies have made great strides in removing toxic chemicals from devices, Greenpeace said, but need to concentrate on reducing the dependency of their manufacturing and supply chains on dirty energy sources that are contributing to climate change.
The environmental group maintained that more carbon is used in the manufacture of some gadgets, such as tablets and smartphones, than consumers ever use after buying them.
"Companies should work with their suppliers to implement more efficient manufacturing processes and to power the supply chain with renewable energy, not fossil fuels, just as they have successfully done to reduce the toxic materials in electronics," lead author of the guide, Casey Harrell, said.
HP also reaped high points for its paper procurement policy, which bans suppliers linked to illegal logging.
In addition, the company was a top scorer for its policies and practices on the sourcing of conflict minerals, for publishing its suppliers, and for engaging effectively in the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition's conflict-free smelter.
One area where HP faltered, though, was in handling electronic waste.
Following HP in the rankings were Nokia (5.4 points), Acer (5.1) and Dell (4.6).
Nokia met a renewable energy target of 40 percent -- a strong number -- but below its 2010 target of 50 percent, the guide noted. The company also falls short in adopting a robust clean electricity plan, a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction target of 30 percent by 2015 and a renewable energy target of 100 percent by 2020.
Acer saw its ranking improve over last year, the guide said, largely due to its taking a leadership role in its conversations with suppliers on a range of issues, including GHG emissions and hazardous substances, conflict minerals and fibre sourcing.
Dell saw its ranking slip due to its poor showing in removing harmful chemicals from its products.
Apple (4.5 points), maker of the iPhone and iPad, also experienced a decline in its guide ranking this year.
According to the Greenpeace, which has had some prominent disagreements with Apple over environmental issues over the years, the company lost points due to its lack of transparency on GHG emissions reporting, clean energy advocacy, disclosure of information on its management of toxic chemicals and details on post-consumer recycled plastic use.
The guide was critical of Apple's battery replacement policies towards notebook computers. Those policies make it difficult for both the recyclists and consumers to choose responsible recycling options for the products they buy from Apple.
It also recommended that Apple take innovative measures to increase the lifespan and durability of whole product systems, rather than just individual parts.
As far as the energy efficiency of Apple's products go, the guide observed, they meet and exceed the US Environmental Protection Agency's strict Energy Star guidelines, with all products being at least twice as efficient as the Energy Star standard and in the case of the Mac Mini, six times as efficient.
Other companies ranked in the Greenpeace guide included Samsung (4.2 points), Sony (4.1), Lenovo (3.9), Philips (3.8), Panasonic (3.6), LGE (3.5), HCL (3.1), Sharp (3.1), Toshiba (2.3) and RIM (2.0), which makes the Blackberry.