Fairphone's environmental footprint only marginally better than Apple

Here is the Greenpeace report ranking electronic companies based on their environmental footprint.

Each company’s scorecard is based on three criteria:

  1. Energy: Reduction of greenhouse gases through efficiency and renewable energy
  2. Resource Consumption: sustainable design and use of recycled materials
  3. Chemicals: Elimination of hazardous chemicals from both the product itself and manufacturing

I was glad to see that Fairphone does rank number 1 out of 17 electronics companies studied.

However, Fairphone only scores marginally better than Apple, Dell or HP.

Here is the detailed analysis on Fairphone


But a scale from A to F is not something you can measure empirically. It’s just a ranking, it doesn’t say how much better one company is than another.

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The thing is, that report does not evaluate working conditions/worker’s rights etc.
This is where I would expect FP to definitely score better than Apple :wink:


And let’s keep in mind that this (working conditions/workers’ rights) target is Fairphone’s primary target from the beginning. I think it’s not too bad when you also finish #1 on your secondary target.


Actually the primary target is conflict-minerals - so this is tertiary at best.


Come on everyone.
That’s something to brag about and to be proud of.

(Not to start nagging.)
Who would have expected that Fairphone is already there? All tasks reached, every problem solved, paradise for everyone?

Just keep in mind, that it’s a small company that developed and manufactured a highly complicated* electronic device with a supply chain so diverse, that it’s rather a web.

To end number one in a ranking by Greenpeace competing against all those global players that have so much more possibilities at hand is nothing but a great success and a major motivation to continue on that path. The report can be quite helpful for that, as it shows what aspects could need more attention and where resources should be located.
Not to forget the marketing aspects and the “pressure” it’s putting on all the other manufacturers.
Especially given the fact, that not one of the companies from the Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronic comes anywhere near Fairphone’s rating when it comes to >Resource Consumption<!

*given the number of parts, raw materials and different suppliers that have to be added up to make one device


From my point of view this doesn’t put any pressure on Apple. They can say, “hey, we aren’t aiming for a fair phone, but Fairphone is only a tad better then we are. Apple products are almost as good as the eco-friendly phone.”

In the end it amounts to Greenpeace’s stubborn focus on nature, which forgets that human beings are part of nature too.


I’m just really glad Fairphone is on the list at all, alongside all the major gobal players. Go, Fairphone! :smiley:


Neither does it evaluate repairability of the devices.


True. Most rankings completely ignore the small players.
Actually keep in mind this is a guide to “greener electronics”, so it’s not just about smartphones, but computers and stuff too. So if Greenpeace would look a bit at other smaller players there would be tens of computer manufacturers between Fairphone and Apple (e.g. most that are mentioned in this topic).


That’s not true:

The assessment is based on iFixit’s repairability score, which considers the time required to repair the product, the device’s upgradability and modularity, as well as the availability of spare parts and repair manuals.

Apple, Samsung products among least repairable in new Greenpeace assessment of tech brands

Edit: this here is part of the FP2 report card which contains the repairability


Hence my putting pressure in quotation marks.
And Apple is not the only one. The rest like Samsung, Sony, Huawei and Google are way behind Apple.

Is that part of the assumed argumentation by Apple or a statement by you?

Let me quote from the report card for Fairphone:

So, at least health issues are an important part of the report, evidently refuting the reproach, that the focus on nature means to forget about the human being. Obviously Greenpeace has aimed to protect nature for the wellbeing and preservation of mankind since decades. I vividly remember the Greenpeace-sticker with the quote that is said to stem from the Cree

And they link to some articles from Fairphone, that lay a focus on social goals as well.

Even Greenpeace can only tackle one goal at a time. As their focus is on environmental issues, the report is on greener electronics. Social issues like fair wages are not irrelevant, but even though not the issue of this report.

And Greenpeace USA has started an initiative Defending Democracy.


This is a statement by me.

In my opinion it is unfair to the miners and workers (and to Fairphone for that matter) to publish a ranking where Apple is only half a rank worse than Fairphone. Maybe it’s a problem of not giving enough emphasis on repairability, or whatever.

At best it should look like this, where red is “doesn’t make impact in the whole supply chain” and green “has a holistic approach towards the improvements in the supply chain”.

Mockup by me.

PS.: Did you all realize that the “E” is missing?

So much for wishful thinking. :wink:

Sorry, but fair means fair to everyone and one simply can not pretend, that Apple and other companies are working like factories in the early 20th century.

Quite the contrary.
Every progress those companies are making proves

  • 1st - Fairphone right
  • 2nd - Fairphone’s impact on the market

Failing to notice that maybe the production conditions in Apple plants have changed for the better since the FoxConn scandal (please regard this as a hypothesis not as a statement, as I did not check it’s validity) would render such a report useless and a waste of paper and energy.

Since the focus of this report is green electronics, it has to be acknowledged, that Apple and Google are frontrunners with regard to Elimination of Brominated Flame Retardants and Polivinyl Chloride

You are free to do your own research and your own ranking. Your mockup is just one of many possible variables, while Greenpeace took more into consideration.
Not to tell, that I would have done it the same way like Greenpeace, but I wouldn’t have done it your way either.

My guess would be, the left the “E” out to avoid misunderstandings with the “E” in E-waste etc.
The scale is listed in the full report on page 5.


@Stefan @BertG
The rating scale is based on academic grading in the United States, where “D” (or sometimes “D-”) is the lowest passing grade, “E” doesn’t exist, and “F” means “Failed”.


That’s not a fair point. Greenpeace mission has always been the protection of our environment - to all humans benefit. I say that is not stubborn, but useful. There are other organizations focusing on human welfare alone. It’s better to fight for one thing than trying to do everything right.

I also disagree about the pressure thing on Apple and Co. If a small company can reach such a ranking, it is absolutely possible for Apple to beat them, given there immensely greater resources and impact. It is on us and all other customers to put pressure on Apple and Google and Samsung and all the others.

Most importantly, they have to work with transparent and traceable methods. It’s not and cannot be about being fair to the employees in Fairphones factories, because if they would be playing favorites, the would loose their credibility. Given the really small market share Fairphone has, it’s a great sign of their good will and recognition of Fairphones ideas that the Fairphone is even included at all.


It’s hard to argue with Greenpeace fanboys about a Greenpeace report. :wink:

It’s awful to see such a powerful organization as Greenpeace misuse their power by painting a picture of the not-so-bad Apple. And at the same time leaving people in the dark about all the other issues connected to electronics supply chains. The Greenpeace report diagram is simplifying the situation enormously. Besides, IMO, it makes it too easy for disciples of the technocratic sustainability paradigm to abuse of the very diagram for their own goals:

If we are thinking that “green electronics” (what a contradiction) will give us a good consciousness, we are unbelievably naive.

From my point of view Greenpeace is effectively greenwashing Apple.


You made me start to wonder about the methodology for choosing the “17 of the world’s leading consumer electronics companies” (didn’t know that Fairphone was one of the world’s leading…). I’m starting to doubt that Fairphone’s inclusion in this report is even beneficial for the company. If Fairphone had the pile of money and the power that Apple has, it would excel the other manufacturers by miles and score an A+++. That’s just my two cents on comparing Apples and oranges.

People, let’s not fight and call each other names - like G-fanboys. :wink:
I think we can all agree that Fairphone exceeds in many fields not included in the Greenpeace guide, but that doesn’t mean that they intentionally disregarded these areas to make Apple and co look better.
It’s just a ranking and “we” are in first place. Let’s not be sore winners and bicker about by how much we should have won.


If you call that arguing … :cry:

Obviously you dislike Greenpeace by heart?
Well, I don’t. Seeing more sides than one does not render one’s arguments invaluable. (Quite the contrary in my humble opinion.)
@ben has made a lot of very good points there.

Talking about fanboyship:

So what? They don’t have the money and therefore they are not miles ahead of the rest. That’s a pity, but that’s the way it is.

The simple fact, that Fairphone is ahead of all the other companies, is just marvellous.
And it is an embarrassment for all the other companies, to be outsmarted by a small company from Europe!

And that’s most likely, why Fairphone has been included into a report by Greenpeace USA, where they even don’t sell their phones.

You don’t like Apple. Ok. So do I.
You don’t want to give Apple credit for what they do? Ok. I just happen to not agree on that point.
That doesn’t make me like that company, but if they don’t use any BFR and PVC and are way better on that behalf than e.g. Lenovo or Samsung, that is valid information to the public.

And if it’s not Fairphone that puts pressure on the other companies, then it’s the scoring for Apple that puts pressure on Huawei and the others.

In my opinion that is a very important point, the impact of which I would not understimate.

As for “greenwashing”:
You do realize, that Apple scores a “C” for “Resource Consumption”?

Well, that depends.
I am absolutely sure, that there are quite a few people to whom owning “green electronics” gives a good consciousness.
On the other hand, even you with your insight do own a smartphone. I guess, like me, you don’t do so for your consciousness, but because you need it and therefore you have selected the most sensible choice: Fairphone. I assume you would be glad if everyone would follow your lead? Now Greenpeace has just strenghend your arguments for Fairphone.
And just a tiny - but most important - correction:
The report is not about “Green Electronics” but “Greener Electronics”, as the whole report is a description of why electronics is not “Green”.


World’s leading … companies is a very flexible definition. :wink: I guess we can agree that there are some aspects in which Fairphone is actually leading, as the guide shows: transparency, modularity, raising awareness for issues related to electronic manufacturing.

Green washing is not true. Also, but that is another point, the 1 year product cycle at Apple is not the problem. You don’t see many if any smartphones used as long as iPhones are often used, or sold as long, or repaired at the same age, even the market for parts is huge years after the introduction to market. Apples stores and partners offering repairs etc is industry leading. You don’t get that good support on many phones and if that means longer usage of the phone, that’s great.