Articles Posted in the Business, Lifestyle category

Guide to climate friendlier gadgets

November 26, 2008
Posted in Business, Lifestyle

The lastest Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics has just been released and this time, in the run-up to the big UN climate change talks in Poland next week, the focus is on climate leadership.

Consumer electronics can play an important role in moving the world towards a low-carbon future, but most companies have been slow to get serious about climate change, says Greenpeace. Although they have made “gradual” improvements on toxic and e-waste issues over the past few years, only a minority of consumer electronics companies are really leading on energy and climate change. And now Greenpeace wants them to step up to the challenge and show leadership.

Since June, the greener electronics guide has examined companies on their climate and energy criteria, which include, their direct emissions, their product performance, their use of renewable energy and their political support for emission cuts. And here’s what Greenpeace found:

Of the 18 market-leading companies included, only Sharp, Fujitsu Siemens and Philips show full support for the necessary emissions cuts of 30 percent for industrial nations by 2020.

Only HP and Philips have made commitments to make substantial cuts in their own emissions from the product manufacture and supply chain.

All the other companies in the guide make “vague or essentially meaningless statements about global emissions reductions and have no plans to make absolute emissions cuts themselves”.

Many companies have gained points from their products’ efficiency improvements.

Most companies use little renewable energy. Nokia, which is still in the number one spot, sources 25 percent of its total electricity use from renewable energy and is committed to sourcing 50 percent by 2010.

Other brands with points for renewable energy use are FSC, Microsoft, Toshiba, Motorola and Philips.

Although Philips and HP score well on energy issues, Greenpeace says they’re position on toxics is letting them down.

Those who score well on toxic chemical criteria already have products on the market free of the worst substances, including Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba, FSC and Sharp.

Overall, the biggest moves up the ranking are Motorola, (from 15th to joint 7th), Toshiba (from 7th to 3rd) and Sharp, (up from 16th to 10th).

The companies falling down the ranking are the PC brands Acer, Dell, HP and Apple. Although Apple drops a place, it has improved its total score this time because of better reporting on the carbon footprint of its products, and although not scoring any extra points, its new iPods are now free of both PVC and brominated flame retardants.

Read more about how the companies fared.

Sun, wind and cellphones in remote areas

October 22, 2008
Posted in Renewable energy

Ericsson has unveiled a new wind-powered radio base station concept that could support mobile communication in areas with no or limited access to the electricity grid, says the company. The wind-powered Tower Tube houses base station and antenna in a fully enclosed concrete tower. It has a smaller footprint and lower environmental impact than traditional steel towers, says Ericsson. Its power consumption is 40 percent lower than traditional bases station sites and this helps operators reduce their operating costs significantly, says the company.

The wind-powered Tower Tube has a four-blade turbine with five-meter blades vertically attached to the tower. Ericsson is working with Vertical Wind AB and Uppsala University in Sweden to develop the concept and trials will be conducted to determine if the wind-powered Tower Tube enables low-cost mobile communication, with reduced impacts on both the local and global environment, the company says in a press release.

Village Solar Chargers in Africa

Ericsson and Sony Ericsson have codeveloped a solar charger for mobile phones that has been shipped to 12 Millennium Village clusters in Africa, as part of a project with Columbia University’s Earth Institute and the Millennium Villages project aiming to lift rural African communities out of extreme poverty.

Mobile phones are contributing to economic development in the developing world but the biggest problem in rural areas is charging the phone, says Mats Pellbäck Scharp, Sony Ericsson’s director of environment and supplier quality assurance. “People often have a phone but need to walk for miles to get it charged.”

The Ericsson Village Solar Charger is built on standard components and can be used for all types of mobiles. It uses a 0.7 square metre solar panel connected to a rack where eight mobiles can be charged at the same time. A 12-volt lead-acid battery makes charging possible at night. The charger is capable of recharging at least 30 mobile phone batteries a day, all year round. It can also be used for other types of load, such as powering computers, lights or TV sets, says Ericsson.

News briefs: Wales’ eco wiki, tuna surprise and greener iPods

September 12, 2008
Posted in Green News

Wikipedia founder launches wiki for greens – Jimmy Wales and Wikia Inc have launched a new eco-focused project called Wikia Green. “The goal is to create a flexible, dynamic community wiki that covers anything and everything in the environmental and sustainable universe,” Daily Green reports.

Call for suspension of Mediterranean tuna fishing – The overfishing of bluefin tuna – highly prized for sushi and sashimi – in the Mediterranean has been described as a “disgrace” by an independent panel reviewing the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). The panel said yesterday that all fishing for East Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna must be suspended immediately until countries involved in those fisheries “agree to fully abide by the rules and recommendations of ICCAT and international fisheries law”, AFP reports.

iPods get the nod from Greenpeace – Steve Jobs’ announcement that Apple’s latest batch of revamped iPods – the iPod Touch, iPod Nano and iPod Classic – will now be free of PVC (polyvinyl chloride, a plastic) and BFRs (brominated flame retardants), along with an absence of mercury and the use of arsenic-free glass, has been applauded by Greenpeace. But the environmental organisation says that Jobs can go further and make more Apple products, such as iPhones and Macs, greener. “What we’d really like for Christmas is to see Apple remove toxic chemicals from all its products, and announce a free, global recycling scheme. Now, that would make a very tasty green Apple indeed!” said Greenpeace in a statement.

More than 3 tons of e-waste dropped off at Makro

September 8, 2008
Posted in Lifestyle

In little more than a month, 3.7 tons of electronic waste have been collected at the drop-off point set up by Makro and Fujitsu-Siemens at Makro’s Woodmead store, Greg Hart of Fujitsu-Siemens said on Talk Radio 702 today. The results have been so encouraging, he said, that the two companies are looking at rolling out the project nationwide soon, starting in Durban and Cape Town.

The e-waste is taken to Desco Electronic Recyclers for processing, said Hart. There the motherboards, for example, are ground down to fine powder and the different particles are extracted – such as plastics, which are recycled, and the various metals, which are sold off to be melted down and reused.

Desco will be audited to check that they dispose of hazardous material properly, said Hart.

Personal information on hard-drives is safe, said Hart. Desco gives a certificate to certify that they don’t access that information, he said, but, if you want to, you can take a hammer to your hard drive or drill a hole through it if you’re worried about security.