Greenpeace USA research examines how 17 tech companies are performing in key sustainability areas such as emissions reductions, resource consumption and elimination of hazardous chemicals.
The average grade across the 17 companies evaluated in the Guide was a D+, demonstrating that the sector as a whole has work to do to resolve supply chain impacts and improve product design. "Rather than fueling climate change, IT companies need to show the way forward, just like Google and Apple have done with data centers run on renewables", said Gary Cook, Senior IT Campaigner at Greenpeace USA. It said companies like Samsung and Huawei fell short of Amsterdam-based Fairphone and Apple in various areas.
Netherlands brand Fairphone takes the top spot overall, followed by Apple, and then Dell.
Despite its central position as both the largest manufacturer of smartphones and one of the largest suppliers of displays, Samsung's manufacturing system relies heavily on fossil fuels.
Greenpeace urged the companies to use more renewable energy, switching energy sources that power their supply chains. The UN has estimated that e-waste globally will surpass 65 million tons in 2017-enough to bury San Francisco to 14 feet.
Numerous companies in the report are guilty of planned obsolescence in their product design, and of producing devices that are hard to fix or upgrade, including Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung, Greenpeace said.
HP, Dell, and Fairphone are the notable exceptions to this trend, producing a growing number of products that are repairable and upgradable.
Less than half of the companies here have adopted renewable energy targets for their own operations, and Apple is the only company to have set a renewable energy goal for its supply chain.
But Apple otherwise gets a high ranking from Greenpeace because of its 100% commitment to renewable energy, and its overall transparency.
Manufacturers also lack transparency in their supply chain, publishing little information on their suppliers, keeping their environmental footprint of their supply chain hidden from view. It also received low marks on its efforts to reduce and disclose hazardous chemicals at workplaces and to design long-lasting products.
"Faced with market saturation for their devices in many countries, companies across the sector have increasingly changed the design of their products in a way that accelerates the replacement cycle by, making them hard to service or upgrade, shortening the useful life of otherwise functional devices".
"We need to see greater ambition, more transparency, and follow-through from companies to address the environmental impacts of their enormous supply chains. The current model can not be maintained", said Cook.