Indian giant Wipro beats outs HP, Apple as it tops Greenpeace’s gadget guide

For the first time in the history of Greenpeace’s green gadget guide, an Indian electronics firm, Wipro, has taken the lead in the rankings ahead of American tech companies like Apple (s AAPL), HP (s HP) and Dell (s DELL). Greenpeace released its latest (18th) Guide to Greener Electronics on Monday and announced that Wipro topped the sustainability rankings out of 16 companies.

First launched in 2006, Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics looks at environmental conditions for electronics manufacturers like if companies use toxic materials in their gadgets, if they take back old products for recycling, how much energy they use to produce and ship their gadgets, and how clean their energy sources are. Companies also score points by setting carbon emissions reductions goals and for advocating politically for sustainability. The top companies in the latest guide are Wipro, HP, Nokia, and Acer, while the bottom companies are Sharp, Toshiba and RIM.

This was the first time that Indian firm Wipro was on the list, and its debut at number one, was prompted largely by Wipro’s “climate leadership,” says Greenpeace. Wipro says it plans to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 44 percent by 2015 and achieve 85 percent of those emissions reductions through the use of clean power. Wipro also has worked closely with the Indian government on solar and clean power policies.

The Indian government has itself developed an aggressive clean power plan, which might be more aspirational than realistic. But India is hoping to install 3 GW of solar by 2016, compared with the 54 MW of solar installed in 2010. And to meet the growing demand for power — as the country’s economy grows — India plans to add 100 GW of power generation over the next five years, and that will be made up by mostly coal and clean power.

While Wipro is willing to be aggressive on clean power and greenhouse gas emissions reductions goals, the Greenpeace rankings find that in contrast almost all of the other electronics giants “are still heavily dependent on climate changing dirty energy sources in their supply and manufacturing chains.” A Greenpeace spokesperson writes:

Most consumers would be surprised to hear that many devices consume more electricity before they’re ever purchased just in their manufacturing than they do after we buy them and charge them every night. This “embedded energy” is the next big frontier for consumer electronics companies who want to be green.

Apple came in at the 6th spot on Greenpeace’s guide, down from its 4th spot in 2011, but up from a former ranking at number nine. Greenpeace has blasted Apple in the past, despite its massive solar and fuel cell farms being built in North Carolina.

Image courtesy of fraboof.