Fujitsu's Wind-Powered Laptop Is So Not Green


Fujitsu Limited has announced the release of the new FMV-BIBLO LOOX U/C50N Eco model. Photograph: PR

In what ended up being quite the bout of investigative journalism, Fred Pearce of The Guardian uncovered some serious greenwash coming out of Fujitsu and their "wind-powered" laptop. The situation underscores how companies try to play fast and loose with the idea of offsetting carbon footprints in order to get people to purchase products. Read on for the dirty details. The basics: Fujitsu released a laptop in Japan that costs a bit more than its identical counterpart, but with the extra money from the purchase, the company promises to buy wind-power and offset the emissions created by the customer in using the computer during its expected life span. However, the numbers really don't line up. According to Pearce:

The wind-powered version costs 118,800 yen, which works out at roughly £834, or $1,228. While the regular version costs 113,800 yen. Unless you count a picture of the planet on the lid, they are otherwise identical. So that's an extra £35, or $52, for those carbon credits.

...If Fujitsu is selling the 18kg of carbon dioxide offsets that come with the wind-powered version for 5000 yen, that works out at just over 278,000 yen per tonne of carbon dioxide. Or, if you prefer, £1,950 per tonne.

I checked the price I would pay at my favourite British carbon offsetting company, the Oxford-based Climate Care. They sell carbon offsets, much of it for wind turbines and biomass burners in Asia, for £8.60 a tonne. They would thus offset those 18kg from the wind-powered laptop for about 15p. Or 227 times less than Fujitsu is charging.

For those of you who like your stats in percentages, that mark-up from 15p to £35 would be around 23,000%.

Did you jaw hit the floor? That's some hardcore greenwashing. Exactly what happens with all that extra dough...does it all go to wind power? Leaves room for suspicion. The problem is, as shown by Deloitte's recent study, when all factors are the same for two products except that one is labeled as green, consumers go for the green. That set-up seems to be the case here, though consumers, and the planet, are essentially getting ripped off if they go for the "greener" of the two laptops.

This situation is another big warning to be diligent about your green purchases and ask the tough questions to make sure that whatever eco-friendly factor you're paying for is legit. What would be far more worthy of a price hike is if the laptop were actually manufactured in a green way, and not just "offset" in a sketchy way.

Via the Guardian
More on Shameless Greenwashing
98% of Green Labeled Products are Actually Greenwashed
Greenwash Watch: Dell Hijacks Earth Day Bandwagon
Greenwashed Theater Charges for Being "Green"
Ultralast Batteries: "Does This Packaging Make My Green Look Washed?"
CES 2009: Fuji Rolls Out Greenwashed EnviroMAX Batteries

Tags: Carbon Offsets | Electronics | Greenwashing

Best of TreeHugger