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 doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to fool everyone, it only has to fool enough people to create the general impression that AppleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s customers bear a weighty Ã¢â‚¬Ëœgreen guiltÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ that can best be assuaged byÃ¢â‚¬Â¦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 Ã¢â‚¬â€ 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.