Ethical Consumer Rates Laptop Makers’ Morals


No laptop maker scores more than half marks in a new online ethical rating system

The Ethical Consumer Website has been examining the merits of laptops and notebooks and found them wanting. On a scale up to 20 points, none of the manufacturer’s models scored higher than half marks.

The buyers’ guide looks at 26 brands and rates them across 23 ethical categories. The brands include the top players such as Hewlett Packard, Lenovo, Dell and Acer but it is smaller players like Archos, Mesh and Advent that lead the ethical group.

Ethical Cut And Thrust

The report’s categories cover all the major issues in the ICT market (conflict minerals, toxic chemicals, supply chain policies, and other environmental issues). Beyond these predictable categories, are issues such as political activities and company arms industry dealings.

The information is sourced by Ethical Consumer’s volunteer staff but some details come from studies by Greenpeace and the Enough Project. This, the Website claims, gives a more rounded view of the market, companies and products.

Tim Hunt, a researcher and co-author of the Ethical Consumer report, said, “This report shows that the market for laptops and netbooks is littered with serious problems both social and environmental. However, it also shows that those issues are beginning to be addressed through the hard work of NGOs [non-Ggvernmental organisations]. What we need now is to build on the work being done, to see more pressure from consumers to let companies know they must do better and ultimately to see more action from the companies themselves”

Apart from giving an overall score, the free shopping guide slices and dices the results under various categories. In the environmental reporting segment, Sony and Toshiba scored top marks but no company shines when it comes to human rights issues.

The report acknowledges that the readers will have their own weightings when it comes to various issues and has added a customising interface. Using simple sliders, the reader can tilt the report to match their particular leanings – people, animals, politics, environment or sustainability – and a detailed issues section allows subscribers to study evidence of a company’s unethical behaviour before making a purchasing decision.

Ethical Consumer’s editor Rob Harrison said he believes the report and its customising tools makes it “the world’s most sophisticated on-line ethical rating system”.

“At Ethical Consumer we understand that different people bring different values to the market. Some people are heavily involved in animal rights issues whilst other are not.”

The resulting interactive study makes it easier to identify and support those companies whose ethics are more agreeable and to avoid those who do not measure up.

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