In a rare Apple letter to consumers titled “A Greener Apple” in 2007, Steve Jobs wrote about Apple’s desires and plans to become greener. He confirmed that Apple had not been very clear about its environmental policies with its customers, shareholders, employees and the industry. By sharing the plans to remove toxic chemicals from its new products and promoting its recycling programs, Apple even received accolades from Greenpeace which responded with an article titled “Tasty News from Apple.” Greenpeace is an international organization that seeks to protect and conserve the environment through individual contributions and global campaigns.
Since then, Apple has been leading the industry by designing environmentally friendly products and accelerating recycling. Five years later, it has taken two steps back when it recently notified the EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) organization that it:
- Is withdrawing its products from the EPEAT registry and
- Will no longer submit its products to EPEAT for environmental rating.
EPEAT is the leading global environmental rating system for electronic products which lists 29 manufacturers in the U.S. that comply with its stringent environmental requirements. The top 5 manufactures with EPEAT certified products are SONY (326), Samsung (309), HP (221), Lenovo (197) and Dell (171). Apple pulled all 39 of its formerly certified desktop computers, laptops and displays from the EPEAT registry.
How does Greenpeace react to Apple’s retreat from EPEAT? Below are comments from David Pomerantz, a spokesperson for Greenpeace International:
“Apple is pulling out of EPEAT so it can make some products in a way that’s less recyclable. In doing so, Apple is pitting design against the environment, and choosing design as the priority. That’s a false choice, and Apple should know better: historically Apple has been a leader in designing products with the environment in mind.”
“Customers who have expressed their concerns to Apple in recent months about the energy it’s using to power its iCloud will be disconcerted to hear that Apple is now backsliding on making its products recyclable. Apple can resume its position of leadership on the environment, but right now it seems to be incorrectly betting that people don’t care.”
What’s also disconcerting is that Apple has chosen to remain silent about this action. At the time of this writing, Apple has not returned any calls seeking comments about this issue from various media inquiries. Yet businesses, government agencies and schools who have been using the EPEAT registry as a guideline for purchasing computers have started to take notice. They need to determine if any exceptions to their published EPEAT procurement rules can be applied; i.e., can they still buy Apple products? Many Fortune 500 companies require procurement sources to be EPEAT certified and the US government requires 95% of the electronics it purchases to be on the EPEAT registry. Only a few miles away from Apple’s HQ, the city of San Francisco can no longer buy Apple computers because they are not EPEAT certified. Apple’s reversal of course may lead to an adverse effect on its computer sales across the country.
With nearly 700 patents awarded to Apple in 2011, the innovators at Apple can invent products that continue to be environmentally friendly. Alternatively, Apple can create new ways to recycle products that have never been recycled before. As Steve Jobs noted in 2007: “All the e-waste we collect in North America is processed in the U.S., and nothing is shipped overseas for disposal.” It’s time for Apple to shed some light on its revised practices and reassure its stakeholders that it wants to walk the green talk. Otherwise it will need to quickly revise its Environmental Reports site that states ” The way our products are manufactured, used and recycled represents the largest percentage of Apple’s total greenhouse gas emissions. That’s why we design them for better environmental performance.”
What’s your view? Would you buy Apple products if they’re not green?
If you enjoyed reading this, you may also like to read:
- Made in the USA…and Eco-Friendly Wireless Products
- The Green Wave: Five Tech Trends that will Accelerate E-Cycling
- Trash Tech: Should Americans Be “Taxed” for Food Waste?
- Eco Marathon: Can You Get 3000 MPG?
- Why Samsung Can Win Win with Green (Eco) Products
© 2012 by Ed Valdez. All rights reserved.
Trademarks and Logos are properties of their respective companies.
* Article first published on Technorati as “Where is Steve Jobs’ Greener Apple? (Exclusive Greenpeace Comments)”