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  • Apple Says They’re Green and Getting Greener

    May 3rd, 2007

    Not so long ago, Greenpeace, a lobbying organization that claims to be promoting a safer environment, gave Apple a 2.7 rating out of ten for failing to follow the proper methods to make the company clean and green. However, a public statement from CEO Steve Jobs has reportedly improved that ranking to a five.

    Now understand that Apple isn’t pulling the same stunt as one of its board members, former Vice President Al Gore, which is to buy so-called carbon credits to convey the illusion of environmental safety. That’s something done by some companies and individuals, such as DreamHost, the firm that hosts all our sites, in place of setting up windmills and solar panels to supply electricity and engage in other environmentally acceptable maneuvers.

    In passing, I’ll just tell you that the carbon credit scheme may be unraveling, with published reports that some of the companies who sell these things are keeping a little too much of the money for themselves.

    Now as a background, Greenpeace’s attitude towards Apple has also come under fire. According to commentator Daniel Eran, writing in one of his Roughly Drafted Magazine blogs: “In its misinformation campaign to vilify Apple in environmental issues, Greenpeace has employed the maxim credited to Abraham Lincoln: ‘You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.’

    “Greenpeace doesn’t have to fool everyone, it only has to fool enough people to create the general impression that Apple’s customers bear a weighty ‘green guilt’ that can best be assuaged by…donating money to Greenpeace.”

    This is only a part of it. Daniel has written several articles pointing out that other PC makers actually have worse environmental records than Apple, but since the latter gets more press, Greenpeace might as well focus the nasty attention their way.

    While he doesn’t actually fight back against Greenpeace’s complaints, Jobs does point out where Apple has, in fact, excelled in manufacturing environmentally safer products. Take CRT monitors, for example. As Jobs correctly states, “Apple completely eliminated the use of CRTs in mid-2006.

    “A note of comparison — Dell, Gateway, Hewlett Packard and Lenovo still ship CRT displays today.”

    That’s something that Greenpeace would rather ignore, since it doesn’t conform to its political agenda.

    One thing that Jobs did do, in addition to detailing the company’s carbon-neutralizing experiences and plans for a greener company, is to reveal plans for the next generation of LCD displays: “To eliminate mercury in our displays, we need to transition from fluorescent lamps to light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to illuminate the displays. Fortunately, all iPod displays already use LEDs for illumination, and therefore contain no mercury. We plan to introduce our first Macs with LED backlight technology in 2007. Our ability to completely eliminate fluorescent lamps in all of our displays depends on how fast the LCD industry can transition to LED backlighting for larger displays.”

    Displays with LED backlighting also supposedly deliver more consistent brightness across the screen, which means a better quality picture with more accurate colors. The latter is a boon to high-end content creators who still often stick with CRT displays for superior color matching.

    Apple’s final promise is the most telling of all: “By 2010, Apple may be recycling significantly more than either Dell or HP as a percentage of past sales weight.”

    It’s really great to know that, despite what Greenpeace has claimed, Apple is working hard towards becoming the most environmentally-friendly PC maker. But there’s surely more that they can do. For example, have they settled on fluorescent light bulbs instead of the old-fashioned incandescent variety to save on power consumption? What about recycling in Apple’s cafeterias, and are they ready to ditch the lines to the local power plant at their headquarters in place of more natural methods of generating electricity?

    Well, at least Apple isn’t buying any carbon credits. That’s the best news of all.



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    12 Responses to “Apple Says They’re Green and Getting Greener”

    1. Noddie says:

      To answer your questions, Apple’s R&D campus has always had fluorescent lighting fixtures throughout (as most large commercial office buildings do), and, because a lot of the campus has huge, unobscured windows (energy efficient glass, no less), they’re mostly off during the day. Further, the lights in offices automatically turn themselves off at a preset time during the night if the occupant forgot to do so. Annoying if you happen to be working at that time, but you just go and flip the lights back on.

      Yes, Apple recycles. There are recycling bins for paper and cardboard all over the Apple campus, and some — in select locations such as the cafeteria — for aluminum and glass. They’re located in the SF bay area, for god’s sake. Cupertino isn’t some podunk town in the midwest where they consider recycling to be the province of dirty, granola-laden hippies. The dirty, granola-laden hippies _run_ Apple.

      They don’t have solar panels, to the best of my knowledge.

      That’s something that Greenpeace would rather ignore, since it doesn’t conform to its political agenda.

      Hmmmm. Questions to ponder:

      What is Greenpeace’s political agenda?
      Have they succeeded in advancing that agenda in this case?
      Is it better for Apple that this information has been published, that there is a public commitment to a green and greener Apple?
      What, then, is the problem?

      I mean, don’t you feel better knowing for certain that Apple is actually very green already?

    2. What is Greenpeace’s political agenda?
      Have they succeeded in advancing that agenda in this case?
      Is it better for Apple that this information has been published, that there is a public commitment to a green and greener Apple?
      What, then, is the problem?

      I mean, don’t you feel better knowing for certain that Apple is actually very green already?

      Well, the issue here is that Greenpeace was claiming Apple was at or near the bottom of the list when it came to PC makers, and that just wasn’t true. And nothing in Apple’s statement changes any policies. Steve Jobs simply explained what they were.

      Peace,
      Gene

    3. Norman Brooks says:

      What is Greenpeace’s political agenda? Forget the word “politics”. Their agenda is to get as much money for themselves as they can without having to work for it and without regard to scruples or honesty. Slinging mud is their road to accomplish that goal.

    4. Richard Taylor says:

      I have argued this “footprint” issue for years with people who prefer to look at forests and have no idea what a tree is. Whether it’s carbon, or emissions, or any other polluting item, the idea that the wealthy may “buy” the pollution quota poorer people can’t afford to “spend” and thus lie to themselves that they are environmentally friendly is reprehensible. It’s like the wealthy buying their way out of the draft during the American Civil War — it’s not fair, and unless sacrificing for our environment is fair, people will find reason to rebel and not participate.

      I applaud Gore for being a voice in the wilderness. He needs to think about how his actions may be perceived if he is to really lead.

    5. rwahrens says:

      Sorry, but for those not yet aware of it, CFLs, or compact fluorescent lightbulbs are full of mercury! See this story:

      http://www.digg.com/environment/The_CFL_Mercury_Nightmare

      That is echoed elsewhere:

      http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/financialpost/story.html?id=aa7796aa-e4a5-4c06-be84-b62dee548fda&p=2

      for the full story.

      There are better ways to help the environment besides filling our landfills with mercury again!

    6. Bill says:

      Mercury in the environment comes from coal-burning power plants (most of us get our electricity from coal-fired plants), not the infinitesmal amounts in a CFL.

      Those who choose to use conventional incandecsent bulbs are putting far more mercury in the environment as a result of the increased electricity use vs. CFLs.

      “Now there’s the cheap PC. During a financial analyst meeting, Apple’s money people said they wouldn’t enter the entry-level PC business because it wasn’t profitable. That was just three months before the Mac mini was announced.”

      No lie there. The mini is not an entry-level PC, although I’l admit it appears a lot of people thought (and still do think) it was. Jobs clearly stated in his intro that the mini was for people who already had a mouse, keyboard and monitor. In other words, people who were not entry-level users.

      As for the Leopard delay, I’ll take Apple’s word. Mostly because a lie (saying they were having problems with Leopard) would have actually made them look better than what they did say. From a business perspective IMHO and that of many others, Apple’s official statement made them appear pretty lame. All things considered, Apple had to have known they weren’t going to make Leopard’s initial release date before they announced the iPhone.

    7. rahrens says:

      I don’t know what the comparisons are, but I still don’t like the idea that breaking one in my home would cost me a couple grand in cleanup expenses!

    8. Yeah, they just won’t let you do your own thing anymore 🙂

      Peace,
      Gene

    9. rwahrens says:

      “Yeah, they just won’t let you do your own thing anymore :)”

      ????? And that applies to my comment just how?

    10. “Yeah, they just won’t let you do your own thing anymore :)”

      ????? And that applies to my comment just how?

      Why “breaking one in my home” of course. 🙂

      Or maybe not.

      Peace,
      Gene

    11. rwahrens says:

      You’re missing the point.

      If incandescent light bulbs are scrapped by fiat, there will be millions of these things beginning to be used all over the country. There may be an “infinitesimal” amount in each bulb, but, at $2000 a pop to clean up that “infinitesimal” amount if it breaks, how much will be eventually released into our local environment through unreported breakage, improperly sealed landfills, house fires that release that mercury to the environment in a much more volatile form, etc.? When there are MILLIONS in use? Multiply that, and the amount will cease to be “infinitesimal”!

      What my own thing is has nothing to do with it.

    12. Ellie Hughes says:

      Incandescent light bulbs will soon be phased out because they waste a lot of energy.~”*

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