You wouldn't know it by looking at it or by snapping photos with it, but Pentax's *istDS digital SLR camera has the Japanese eco-label ECO-LEAF. Surprisingly when searching for consumer information about the camera there was no mention of the eco-label. The ECO-LEAF is an eco-label that is given based on the results of the life cycle assessment of the product. This program belongs to the Type III eco-label category of the ISO 14025 Standard. For this label quantitative environmental data is given for the life cycle of a product, from raw material extraction to production, distribution, use, disposal and recycling of the finished product. This is different from Type I which is given by a certifying body who judges a product based on a standard (i.e. Forest Stewardship Council) and Type II in which a company auto-declares that its product is "environmentally conscious". Type III is quantitative and doesn't provide a judgment on the environmental "friendliness" of the product. What it does mean is that the manufacturer has carried out an LCA and reported its finding to the ECO-LEAF people. The small amount of information available on the German Pentax website notes that "The *istDS was the world's most compact, lightweight digital SLR camera at the time of its market launch in January 2005 " Minimizing materials and weight is one of many eco-design principles. Additionally, "the camera is free of hazardous substances such as hexavalent chromium and used no lead in the optical components, in order to minimize environmental impact." Although we couldn't find the actual LCA report the good news here is that Pentax is minimizing hazardous materials, lowering weights and reducing materials in an attempt to make their digital SLR cameras greener. The updated version of this camera is also featured in the 2006 environmental and social reports on the Pentax website, but they do not mention ECO-LEAF accreditation. They do say that the *istDL2 underwent a weight reduction by 10% from the previous model mainly due to the change from glass to resin molding for a particular part. As well, the updated model touts the elimination of environmentally hazardous substances and compliances with the RoHS Directive that was implemented in July 2006. They also boast the use of lead free solders and the elimination of hazardous substances from attached parts and packaging. This sounds like a dream come true. Now if only I could find those complete LCAs...The bottom line here is that Pentax is doing something in the field of LCA, but finding that information is not as user-friendly as their cameras. We'll keep searching for those complete studies and kudos to Pentax for taking some steps towards greener cameras.
You can read the full ECO-LEAF guidelines on the Japanese Environmental Management Association for Industry website.