Canon Marketing Campaign Highlights Green Hype Problem Among Electronics Manufacturers

TreehuggerLogo This piece by Jaymi Heimbuch in TreeHugger, examines Canon's new green campaign, GreenNation. While it may appear that Canon's new product line is making strides in sustainability, upon closer investigation Jaymi discovers that Canon's claims far exceed the actions they're taking to differentiate their product.

Posted July 13, 2010

By Jaymi Heimbuch, TreeHugger

Canon has launched a new campaign this month to boost its line of
green products intended to green up office spaces. Called GreenNation,
the line-up has made its way from Japan to the Philippines and hopes to
keep spreading across Asia and beyond. From these "greener" materials to
improvements in energy efficiency, Canon is surely hoping their new
products will raise the bar much higher for the competition in
manufacturing more sustainable electronics. But upon a closer look, the
GreenNation campaign smacks of doing-a-little-to-claim-a-lot, something
all too common among electronics manufacturers.

More and more often, we hear electronics manufacturers say that their
gadgets are made with recycled materials — which is definitely a good
thing. Canon is is claiming not only this, but also that the new
printers' exterior is made mostly of biomass plastic, a plastic whose
raw materials are the starch, sugar, or cellulose contained in plants
(such as PLA or corn-based plastic). If the content is being
touted by news sources as 100% recycled plastic
and the
exterior is made of biomass plastic, then something is clearly amiss in
Canon's claims.

At any rate, the printers are trimming their power consumption, using
just 1 watt of power during hibernation. Canon claims that this is a
90% reduction in power use. But new electronics from televisions to
monitors to computers are practically all using 1 watt or less of power
during off or hibernation mode. So while it's great Canon's new printers
achieve this level of efficiency, it's nothing to crow about at this
stage in the efficiency race.

Canon is also providing "eco-image" paper, made from eucalyptus trees
which grows rapidly and offer a more sustainable option for harvested
woodpulp for paper products. But while eucalyptus is more replenishable
than some other species of trees used for paper, it doesn't necessarily
make it a green source. Using post-consumer recycled content in their
paper would be a much more sustainable move (though admittedly also more
difficult as post-consumer recycled content makes for lower quality
paper).

Finally, Canon is offering a recycling program for ink cartridges
through GreenNation, which should be a basic move for any printer
manufacturer. Most manufacturers are already on the ball with this, with
some even turning those cartridges into usable products like plastic
lumber
. But what about the recycling program for the printers
themselves. Canon doesn't seem to make a mention of bolstering their existing recycling
programs
as part of GreenNation.

ABS-CBN
News reports
that Canon Chairman and CEO Alan Chng told the Manila
press, "The success of taking care of the environment is not in the
program, but on the people."

This is true since it is up to people to chose the most
environmentally friendly products available, and make purchases and use
printer only when absolutely necessary. But it is also true that
manufacturers have to work a lot harder these days at producing truly
sustainable products before they can use them as an edge in green
marketing.

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