Even with attendance and exhibitor numbers down CeBIT this week was still full steam ahead on green. Luis Neves, Head of Sustainability at Deutsche Telekom and Chairman of the Global eSustainability Initiative (GESI), during his keynote announced GESI's newest member will be Research In Motion, maker of the Blackberry. GESI is an industry & NGO stakeholder body which commits to promote sustainability performance and currently focuses on three areas for peer and industry wide improvement: climate change, e-waste and supply chain. Current members include HP, Ericsson, Cisco Systems, Nokia, Vodafone, Microsoft, Deutsche Telekom, World Wildlife Fund & Carbon Disclosure Project amongst others.
RIM/Blackberry maybe starting to feel the heat from Greenpeace and other pressure groups on the issue of toxic contents, energy use and recycling. The latest Greenpeace report which ranks the Blackberry Pearl 8130 in fourth place behind the Nokia 6210 Navigator, Sony Ericsson G900 and Hewlett Packard iPAQ 910.
...the Blackberry Pearl, which lost a lot of points in the life cycle criteria and for poor energy efficiency, and did not even meet the Energy Star standard.
RIM currently publish very little information on their corporate sustainability performance though they do have extensive coverage of their philanthropic activity on their website. The latest annual report does not broach the topic but their latest Annual Information Form would suggest that, at least until now, RIM takes a view that environmental performance rather more represents a cost of compliance threat rater than a competitive or cost & risk reduction opportunity.
In addition, the Company may be required to comply with substance bans in other jurisdictions and product take-back requirements that would make the Company responsible for recycling and/or disposing of products the Company has sold. These and other environmental laws may become more stringent over time, may be required in more places of RIM’s business and may require the Company to incur substantial costs for compliance.
On the website FAQ section RIM also detail the types of questions from the public it does not intend to answer including:
From whom does RIM purchase its components?
With supply chain provenance now becoming a significant pressure point for the electronics industry RIM may find this position come under pressure especially since earlier this year fellow GESI member HP began to unveil its supply chain.
RIM's decision to now join GESI is an important signal of intent. RIM is no longer happy to standby and let long standing GESI members such as HP and Nokia do all the running on environmental issues on their own terms. I would also see it as a signal, especially in these challenging economic times, that RIM snow sees sustainability performance as a significant factor of competition & innovation. Expect to see significantly more sustainability performance disclosure and for RIM to seriously innovate in this space.