Overall, I rate RYOBI’s 18V ONE+ HP Brushless 1/2 inch Drill at 1 planet. While I enjoyed learning about RYOBI’s sustainability and corporate social responsibility initiatives, I was not impressed by their lack of transparency and detailed plans to achieve their claimed goals. I appreciate how RYOBI strives to recycle 99% of its materials, but again, it was difficult to find information that supports that the company actually does this. This shows how RYOBI is guilty of greenwashing. That being said, if there were some way I could have verified that RYOBI’s sustainability initiatives are in fact being pursued, then my rating would have been higher.
The RYOBI 18V ONE+ HP Brushless 1/2 inch drill is made of aluminum, plastic, a P102 lithium ion battery, a brushless motor, and a LED light. The brushless motor includes magnets and copper windings, while the lithium-ion battery is made of lithium, aluminum, cobalt, nickel, manganese, graphite, and copper.
Aluminum, nickel, copper, cobalt, and manganese are all recyclable, and RYOBI claims to recycle 99% of its materials, so this is a positive factor for the sustainability rating. The next material is plastic, which is not the most sustainable, but it is cheap and common; I can understand why RYOBI uses plastic in their tools, stating that other materials like precious metals are more expensive. The P102 lithium-ion battery has both pros and cons when it comes to sustainability. In combination with brushless technology, the lithium ion battery is more sustainable in terms of energy efficiency. Tools that have brushed motors and outlets require more energy to function, and they exert as much energy as possible when the tool is turned on. Conversely, the lithium ion battery has different levels of power, which automatically adjust during usage. Therefore, the lithium-ion battery lasts longer and conserves more energy than alternatives, which is a positive. The negative aspect of lithium ion batteries is in how the materials are extracted, which you can see in the next section, “How It’s Made”. I already touched upon the brushless motor, concluding that it is more sustainable than a brushed motor because of energy efficiency and usage. The materials used in the battery and motor, being the metals stated earlier, are sustainable when they are properly recycled and disposed of. However, they are not sustainably sourced because extracting the metals have detrimental environmental impacts. The final material mentioned, the LED light, is sustainable. LED lights are energy efficient as they consume much less energy than the standard light bulb.
RYOBI’s tools are manufactured in China, so if you are looking to support a “Made in America” brand, you are looking at the wrong tools. RYOBI fails to give detailed information about their manufacturing practices, which raises an alarm about how seriously they are committed to their sustainability initiatives; how do we know RYOBI is serious about reducing CO2 emissions, if they won’t even track and/or share how much CO2 results from the manufacturing of their tools? This shows greenwashing.
Another issue with how RYOBI’s tools are made is revealed in the sourcing of materials. Cobalt, lithium, and graphite mining all contribute to environmental pollution. Specifically, Lithium is extracted using “water mining”, which is detrimental to water supply, water quality, and communities with lithium reserves.
RYOBI seems to have positive sustainability values, but they lack transparency about manufacturing practices, material sourcing, and sustainability plans. Additionally, it was difficult to determine how true RYOBI is to its Corporate Social Responsibility and sustainability initiatives, since their website posted written goals with no evidence or plans of following them. RYOBI may be greenwashing.
Nevertheless, I appreciate the goals that RYOBI claims to value, I just hope that the company’s actions and future planning actually incorporate their claimed values.