Chinese PC maker Lenovo has gone from ranking last on a Greenpeace list of 14 big tech companies to topping it.
The latest edition of Greenpeace's Guide to Greener Electronics, published Tuesday, is designed to help consumers and businesses gauge how green tech companies are. Rather than focusing on recycling, environmentally conscious customers should focus on the toxic chemicals used by suppliers, Greenpeace said.
The guide ranks Lenovo as No. 1 out of 14 global manufacturers and the most improved. According to Greenpeace, Lenovo has made "progress on all criteria but lost points for not having products free of the worst chemicals on the market yet."
Greenpeace cited improvements in Lenovo's position on environmentally conscious principles and responsibilities, as well as providing recycling or return services wherever its products are sold, as main factors for the Chinese company's performance. However, the PC maker still failed to score any points for making computers that are free of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and BFRs (brominated flame retardants).
"We realize that continual improvement of our environmental performance is a long-term commitment, and we are focused on taking the steps necessary to be a leader in this arena," Mike Pierce, Lenovo's director of environmental affairs, said in a statement.
Iza Kruszewska, an antitoxics campaigner for Greenpeace, said Lenovo has made considerable progress in the past six months to jump from the last position to the lead spot in the ranking.
"Lenovo's performance challenges others in the industry to keep setting the pace for environmental progress," Kruszewska said.
In the first edition of the Greenpeace report, published in August, Lenovo was ranked last on the list of 14 companies, which also included Acer, Apple, Dell, Fujitsu Siemens Computers, Hewlett-Packard, LG Electronics, Motorola, Nokia, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications, Sony and Toshiba.
Lenovo climbed to eighth place in the second edition of the Greenpeace report, released in December.
Apple, on the other hand, remains in last place.
In August, when the company was ranked 11th on the list, a representative of Apple disagreed with Greenpeace's rating and the criteria it had chosen.
"Apple has a strong environmental track record and has led the industry in restricting and banning toxic substances such as mercury, cadmium and hexavalent chromium, as well as many BFRs. We have also completely eliminated CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors, which contain lead, from our product line," the representative then said.
When contacted, Apple Australia spokesperson Fiona Martin stood by the company's previous claim, adding that "Apple desktops, notebooks and displays each score best in class in the new EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) ranking system."
The EPA system, which uses international standards set by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, is called the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool.
Luke Anderson reported for ZDNet Australia in Sydney. Andrew Donoghue of ZDNet UK contributed to this report.