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Apple a bit less green this year than last, Greenpeace finds

The organization said Apple was in sixth place this year, down from fourth last year, in its study on "greener electronics."

A look at electronics companies' ratings.
A look at electronics companies' ratings.

Apple saw its environmental friendliness slip a little over the last year, according to a new study from Greenpeace.

The organization today released the 18th annual "Guide to Greener Electronics." Apple took the sixth spot this time around, with a score of 4.5 out of a possible 10, down from 4.6 (and fourth place) last year. The company was hit hard on Sustainable Operations for "lacking a robust take-back program in India." Worldwide, however, its recycling program is quite good. The biggest issue Greenpeace has with Apple is that lacks "transparency" and is unwilling to divulge details on the ways in which it's committing its operations to more environmental friendliness.

"Though one of the high scorers in this edition, Apple misses out on points 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," Greenpeace said today in its summary.

Apple and Greenpeace have always had a love-hate relationship. While Steve Jobs was running Apple, he and the environmental watchdog group had a public spat over just how green his company's products were. However, Jobs was also instrumental in making sure that Apple's products were environmentally friendly and launched a program in which his company would analyze how "green" its products were each year. By January 2010, Greenpeace was laudatory of Apple's efforts, saying that the company's products, which were completely free of polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC), were standards by which all other products in the industry should be judged.

Although a score of 4.5 out of 10 might seem so great, in the tech world, Apple's rating isn't so bad. For the first time, Indian electronics firm Wipro took the top spot with a 7.1 out of 10. Hewlett-Packard, a perennial leader in the green movement, could only muster a 5.7 out of 10. Nokia and Acer took the third and fourth spots, respectively, with a 5.4 and 5.1, respectively.

As with last year, Research In Motion landed at the bottom of the heap, scoring a 2.0. The BlackBerry maker took significant heat for failing to offer a comprehensive clean electricity plan. Greenpeace also took issue with RIM's lack of a timeline on when it might eliminate PVC and brominated frame retardants (BFRs) from its products.