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How Apple got green overnight...

09/30/06

How Apple got green overnight...

  05:47:34 am, by fplanque   , Categories: IT business, Environment

At Apple's last special event, after introducing the new iPods, Steve Jobs added this:

"We've got some new packagings for the new nano as well. And it's 52% less volume. This turns out to be an environmentally great thing. Because it dramatically reduces the amount of fossile fuels we have to spend to move these things around the planet."

Isn't that odd?

I mean, I have been religiously watching Uncle Steve's speeches for at least two years now, and I believe this is the first time he's been mentioning the environment in one of his one man shows. More than that, he actually seemed pretty proud about Apple's contribution to the environment.

Well... yeah... I could be almost happy about it... If only Apple was really concerned about the environment! But so far, all I heard is "look we're saving a lot of money on shipping costs and that will help us be cheaper than the Zune".

But there's another reason for Jobs showing his environment friendly side. (Check out their updated environment page on Apple's site).

The real reason is Greenpeace! They came out with a report on how environment friendly consumer electronics manufacturers actually are. And guess what? Apple is close to the last! :(

Greenpeaces reproaches against Apple mostly include:

  • Overuse of toxic chemicals (brominated flame retardants, polyvinyl chloride) which make recylcing hazardous.
  • No timeline to phase these chemicals out.
  • Recylcing program limited to the US or where Apple is legally compelled to.
  • Products designed to have a short life span.

Of course, Apple prefers to focus on packaging size, energy efficiency (which the all the competition does equally), the fact that flat panels weight less than CRTs (hello!?) and other environment friendly side effects to their marketing strategy.

Ironically, there's this other computer maker Apple likes to make fun of. That company with the computers where the Intel processor is limited to "dull and repetitive tasks". That company called Dell. Well, ironically, Dell is ranking very well: number 2 on the environment scale! (#1 being Nokia)

"It is disappointing to see Apple ranking so low in the overall guide. They are meant to be world leaders in design and marketing, they should also be world leaders in environmental innovation."
--Greenpeace

Back to Steve's speech: Masquerading a small economic decision into a big environmental one. Is that all a company like Apple can do? If they really cared, I don't think so. This definitely looks like a cheap reaction to Greenpeace's report.

Also, the old packaging was cardboard. The new one is thick plastic. Has anyone heard Steve say that the plastic one recycles better than the cardboard one? Wouldn't that have been conveniently appropriate to mention? (if it was true...)

Don't get me wrong: I love my Mac, I love my iPod, I love the way Steve amazes us all the time. But I'd really really like him to amaze us in a "greener" way... ;) Come on Apple, you can do better than that! Let's go for some real environmental innovation & progress!

53 comments

Comment from: JJ [Visitor]  
JJ

I think you’ve missed the real value in this. Sure, its hiding the real reason why they did something, but look at the response time. When did GreenPeace release that rating? If they were to do the same thing again today, would any of the other companies have changed position? Not likely. What is important is that Apple cares enough to make change happen, and fast. They can’t go announcing to their Shareholders that they did something to impress GreenPeace, they have to hide it. The results are what count.

09/30/06 @ 19:04
Comment from: Seth Woodworth [Visitor]  
Seth Woodworth

Calloo Callah! Given Apple’s market share they would do well to situate them selves as a green option to PC as well as a functionality and ‘cool’ arguement.

You got slashdotted by the way.

09/30/06 @ 19:18
Comment from: Richard Migneron [Visitor]  
Richard Migneron

Well, you should read Daniel Eran’s blog, where he explains how Greenpeace got its facts all wrong and that Apple is well ahead of most of its competitors …

www.roughlydrafted.com

09/30/06 @ 19:24
Comment from: bob [Visitor]  
bob

Hey.. you want greener go smoke some pot hiippy!

09/30/06 @ 20:04
Comment from: liberalhater [Visitor]  
liberalhater

Eh, just more left-wing drivel designed to attack a successful company…

09/30/06 @ 20:11
Comment from: Ryan [Visitor]  
Ryan

Just a note that the environment page on Apple’s site was NOT put up solely because of this green move (as it’s sort of hinting at in your post).  It has been up for a while, just not publicized as much.  

It has been around since at LEAST June 2004.

09/30/06 @ 21:16
Comment from: admin [Member]  

Ryan, I think you’re right and my post is misleading on this. I updated that section. Hope it’s better this way ;)

09/30/06 @ 21:20
Comment from: Alice [Visitor]  
Alice

Well, it’s not that Apple actually did anything real in reaction to Greenpeace. I bet it was more like “Greenpeace rated us as a danger to the environment. Go dig up some fact snippet as a counter-proof” and viola, what they found was “hey, we had to reduce the packaging for the Nano to make a little more profit on it, lets put that up in big letters” ;)

09/30/06 @ 21:26
Comment from: Jean-Michel Decombe [Visitor]  
Jean-Michel Decombe

The reason why Apple is doing that is because Al Gore is on the board and is having a direct influence on his Royal Steveness. No need to try to find hidden meaning in everything that The Man says, you know… Give him a break for once.

09/30/06 @ 21:29
Comment from: dm [Visitor]  
dm

Apple has a very long history of being a leader in environmentally friendly packaging and manufacturing. This started in the early 90’s (I worked for them for a summer then, so I saw the environmental focus from the inside), and has continued to the present. This has been well-known for a long time, but if you’ve only been listening to Steve Jobs’ speeches–and only for two years–I guess it’s possible that you didn’t realize this. I suggest actually looking at the evidence–the number of environmental advances Apple has made over the years and how consistently the other computer manufacturers follow them–and then see what your opinion is.

As far as Jobs’ speeches, it’s not much of a surprise that he doesn’t often mention Apple’s environmental leadership–their reputation and history have made it unnecessary to cointinue to point this out.

Also, if you read the report, Apple’s low ranking in the Greenpeace study was not based on their having more toxic practices, but on the fact that Apple’s official in-writing goals are not as strict as other companies’. But their actually practices are. And some of those same companies–like HP–were found to be in violation of their own policies (while Apple went far beyond what is required by their policy).

BTW, since the publishing of the press release you cite, Greenpeace has done a study based on the actual content of the laptops instead of just the companies’ written goals, and these results completely contradicted their original rankings. I think someone earlier has already posted the url for roughlydrafted, which goes into all kinds of detail on this.

But yes, you’re right: Apple does save money by making smaller packaging.

09/30/06 @ 21:35
Comment from: Dylan [Visitor]
Dylan

Actually, the new packaging is not a new thing for Apple. In January of 2006, Apple announced a revision to their iLife package, “iLife 06,” which was also introduced with smaller packaging than previous revisions. At the time, Jobs noted environmental and cost concerns as a motivator.

Also, manuals found in Macs this year have gotten smaller and packaing in general is taking less room. I believe Apple is trying to find ways to reduce costs, increase inventory at their stores, etc. and the environmental concern is just one of many factors.

09/30/06 @ 21:57
Comment from: Firoz [Visitor]  
Firoz

To DM - Apple will only recycle your old Mac if you purchase a new one from them. Dell will recycle your old PC regardless of whether you’re buying a new PC from them or not. That certainly doesn’t sound as if Apple is way ahead of other companies as you suggest. Or that other companies are catching up with Apple. In fact, it seems as if it’s Apple that could do with some catching up.

http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9584_22-6121175.html

09/30/06 @ 22:07
Comment from: shrimp [Visitor]  
shrimp

“Products designed to have a short life span.”

That is an opinion, not a fact.

09/30/06 @ 22:20
Comment from: Billy [Visitor]  
Billy

Last year it was proposed that Apple extend its recycling program that was only available for its iPods, to the desktops as well. Apple previously only paid shipping on iPods if you wanted to send your broken one in for it to have a new life. This discouraged people from sending their old desktops because they would have to spend 40 to 90 dollars in shipping. The board of directors was very against the proposal … they had a couple pages of couter points in the vote that was sent out to all shareholders. It doesn’t surprise me that Apple is still near the bottom of the green list.

09/30/06 @ 22:46
Comment from: Simon [Visitor]  
Simon

Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the old packaging also include a huge block of (unrecyclable, in most places) polystyrene? If the new plastic packaging doesn’t need this block, then there’s still an advantage in materials.

09/30/06 @ 23:04
Comment from: el Predicto [Visitor]  
el Predicto

Doesnīt the new iPod packaging make the iPod easier to fit in a vending machine or the small spaces of an airport “need a quick gift” store? Isnīt that the real reason for the smaller packaging?

09/30/06 @ 23:46
Comment from: Isaac Bowman [Visitor]  
Isaac Bowman

I followed the links from a slashdot post and love your comments on Apple. Great break down of Apple’s really motives.

10/01/06 @ 00:02
Comment from: Jan Gundtofte-Bruun [Visitor]  
Jan Gundtofte-Bruun

Don’t take that Greenpeace scale for face value!

The scale was made by asking manufacturers various questions; well for instance Dell, which is here lauded for its green-ness, got its fine position based on optimistic promises of future change (which with all due respect in itself is quite positive).

On the other hand there is Fujitsu-Siemens, who have not used mercury for years, only use one type of plastic in each device, and are actively applying other green practices, only answered on actual current conditions, and thus ended up much lower-scored.

What does this have to do with Apple? Nothing, maybe. Or, it means that their green-ness is entirely different than indicated by Greenpeace.

10/01/06 @ 00:04
Comment from: spyinthesky [Visitor]  
spyinthesky

Well of course Greenpeace has had to (reluctantly)admit that their report was somewhat misleading and nutrue but hey its far easier to report the bad news with impact than the truth as a damp squib. Hangers on like the author of this artical simply like the sound of their own voice, and feel good about it.

10/01/06 @ 01:07
Comment from: admin [Member]  

spyinthesky, I promise I will read out my post loud a couple of times and try to enjoy my own voice by doing so.

Anyway, my point is: the only reason Jobs came up with that 52% volume thing trying to make it look like an environmental advance (which I claim it is not), is because of the Greenpeace report.

I could almost not care about wether Greenpeace is misleading here or not (but I like their fake ad ;). Jobs did not say “as always we make environment friendly products, despite of what some misinformed organizations claim, and our new packaging is yet another step in that direction". Oh no, he made it sound like the *volume* reduction was GREAT environmental news. That argument is weak… and Jobs know his stuff well enough not to use weak arguments if he actually had good ones.

My point is: Apple needs to green their image and so far, their arguments are lame. And I hope it’s goign to change. I hope they’ll amaze us on that too.

Now make up your mind.

10/01/06 @ 01:28
Comment from: uhzoomzip [Visitor]  
uhzoomzip

The recent packaging changes by Apple have less to do with being green/environmentally friendly and more with being more efficient with shipping costs and retail space.

Old iPods - most stores couldn’t stock more than 600/1000 at a time. New iPods…1000s+

Same with the Macs.

10/01/06 @ 02:41
Comment from: Oze Hole [Visitor]
Oze Hole

I knew there were several reasons I recommend Lenovo (formerly IBM Thinkpad) laptop computers. It wasn’t just that Lenovos notebooks are such rugged, well-engineered, practical machines without all the goofy bells and whistles the sheep who buy Apple products get all gooey over, but that the focus is on superior performance, not appeasing envirowackos.

10/01/06 @ 03:30
Comment from: Anonymous [Visitor]  
Anonymous

Really, who cares about the intentions? If something good comes from the practice why should I care about why Apple made the change? I don’t diminish Apple’s environmental practices because they also save money in the process. In fact, I’m happy to see that good environmental practices can lead to higher profits - that’s a positive incentive and if a company has incentives beyond feel good intentions and governmental meddling great things can get done.

Environmentalism has always been framed incorrectly. Instead of feel good intentions we should look for ways to make environmentalism economically feasible. Like Communism, good intentions only get you misery and failure but if something fits into a positive economic model it will at least succeed in a sustained, natural manner.

10/01/06 @ 04:02
Comment from: nothanks [Visitor]  
nothanks

Two words: Al Gore.

He’s on their board of directors.

10/01/06 @ 04:06
Comment from: koshy [Visitor]  
koshy

Tell me why companies responding to environmental advocate groups is bad.

Don’t bother with the motivation; assume a profit motive, and a desire for good marketing strategy.

I don’t care about the spin. Care about the results. This seems to me like a functioning society.

10/01/06 @ 04:27
Comment from: JHW539 [Visitor]  
JHW539

If Apple scores points touting the tangible environmental benefits of less packaging, and other companies notice that this is actually cheaper too… what’s the problem again? That corporations will take actions that reduce waste and improve the enviroment because it will make them money rather than make “them” (who, Mr. Company personified?) feel good?

As a professional in the green field (industrial and building systems), we want to encourage the idea that green is good for business. While you’re saying, “This isn’t good enough - its an obvious attempt at greenwashing, do more!” all the company hears is “This isn’t good!” And energy and resource efficiency, which is good for business, the bottom line, and the environment, gets thrown back in the cellar for another business cycle.

10/01/06 @ 04:32
Comment from: Matt Fowler [Visitor]
Matt Fowler

I found Greenpeace’s report to be so horribly unfair and full of spin and nonsense that I stopped my previous Ģ5-a-month donation to them and made sure they knew why I was stopping caring.

10/01/06 @ 04:33
Comment from: holyfq [Visitor]
holyfq

I remember Steve J mentioned the smaller packaging for a computer product on a keynote (don’t remember which one), I think it was for the iMac (i think), but this is not the first time its mentioned.

10/01/06 @ 05:33
Comment from: Doug [Visitor]  
Doug

First of all, Greenpeace is hardly a reputable source of any information. They have distorted facts on so many occasions to fit their narrow-minded agenda that it’s hard to take anything they say as having any legitimate factual basis.

As a reminder, it was a Greenpeace ship that was refused passage into Alaskan waters last year because it failed to meet federal guidelines for waste disposal and ocean dumping regulations.

As for the original author of this topic, I feel that your personal bias has impaired any ability you may have had to present anything approaching an objective look at this issue, instead adopting one subjective to your personal biases.

You present the Greenpeace chart as factual evidence, then turn around and say that “I could almost not care abour wether Greenpeace is misleading here or not…". You have just admitted that your personal biases are more important than fact in this matter. You just admitted your bias, as well as your anti-Apple sentiment.

It’s one thing to harbor ill will towards a company, individual, etc. It is another matter altogether to attempt to present that bias as some sort of authoritative report on an issue.

10/01/06 @ 05:40
Comment from: ghazala [Visitor]  
ghazala

seems to me like they are doing the right thing, no?

but, it did take a while

10/01/06 @ 06:19
Comment from: Curtis [Visitor]  
Curtis

Hey… when they come out witht he iPod made entirely out of lawn clippings and loose bark… let me know.

10/01/06 @ 06:29
Comment from: Philip [Visitor]  
Philip

I think Bob Marley had a different opinion of what ‘Green Peace’ meant.

10/01/06 @ 07:23
Comment from: Seth Johnson [Visitor]  
Seth Johnson

Apple computers historically have longer life spans than PC’s. A 1998 Blue and White Mac G3 450mhz will still run Mac OS X and edit video. An eight year old Dell will run a bare bones linux distro and function as a router or print server. Mostly, the PC has suffered a shorter life cycle which means more computers per user going to landfills.

iTunes deserves credit by reducing the manufacture and disposal of audio CDs. By transmitting songs over the internet, less energy is used for shipping and packaging.

Seth

10/01/06 @ 08:43
Comment from: Flutist [Visitor]
Flutist

Hey, using cardboard kills more trees.

Modern plastics are better, you can burn them for energy. And like someone remarked, you almost always had polystyrene or other bad foam with your cardboard.

Leave trees alone so I can go hug ‘em some more. (Okay, just walk in the woods, but anyway.)

10/01/06 @ 10:23
Comment from: CW [Visitor]  
CW

It’s a shame that Greenpeace is losing its cred. All it takes is one false accusation, and poof, all gone.

10/01/06 @ 11:30
Comment from: Anson Ringenoldus [Visitor]  
Anson Ringenoldus

Well, given the fact that the average Apple computer has a life span of around 6 to 8 years on average (I know a lot of companies still using old G3 and even older PPC machines daily).
In the businessworld itīs quitte common to replace computers after 2 or 3 years.
Not so with companies which use Apple computers.
Itīs quitte normal that Apple macīs are used up to 6 years and after that as printspooler etc..

10/01/06 @ 13:06
Comment from: admin [Member]  

Hey guys, thanks for all these comments!

Many very intereresting and valid points. It definitely puts some perspective on my own thoughts.

While I have no problem at all with admitting I’m biased (hey there, this is *my* *blog*, not Reuters!), I just wanted to make it clear that:

1. I like Apple
2. I like Greenpeace
3. I support Apple more than Greenpeace (when looking at how much money I give them every year)
4. I’d certainly like Greenpeace to take extra care when presenting “facts” (but it’s not really the topic here) (Yeah I know, I’m not extra careful either…)
5. I’d definitely like Apple to be more environment friendly… again. As many people have reported here and on slashdot, Apple has done better in the past regarding packaging for example.
6. My point here is that Steve masquerading his economic packaging optimization into a big environmental leap forward was pretty lame. Apple could do much better. If Apple cared. They keep amazing us with clean designs, they could amaze us with green designs. If only they’d put some real effort into it. Not just a few words in a speech.
7. I agree that the smaller packaging DOES have positive environment side effects, and I hope I have never implied smaller packaging was a bad thing.
8. No matter what, Uncle Steve rules! :))

Also, about short lifespans, I am mostly citing Greenpeace. I don’t know much about Mac lifespans. However, I do know that your iPod will feel obsolete after 1 or 2 years. And I do know an amzing people who had their iPod replaced (sometimes several times) because it failed on them after less than 2 years of use.

10/01/06 @ 14:29
Comment from: rsp [Visitor]  
rsp

I do beleive that Apple computers are much more expencive that Dell - that would lead one to think that Apple should be able to afford to do much more than Dell in this area. Yet dell on their very thight budget is doing a better job of it.

We give old corporate computers to families that cannot afford a computer - at present we turn down any offer of Apple equipment - Too hard to deal with for us. We are extending the service life of these computers by years and may in fact stop the manufacturing of a few additional computers.
We use something like 95% Dell & Compaq/HP systems because that is what is donated. Average speed is under 600mzh (down to 400mhz) - SuSE works just fine on them - True some programs are a bit slow but still usable. So a G3 450mhz Apple running modern software is not that special.

I hope that people in other parts of the country will follow our lead and start programs like ours.

10/01/06 @ 20:03
Comment from: Baloney Buster [Visitor]
Baloney Buster

I read the Greenpeace reported cited and there is no mention of Apple computers having a short lifespan I can find, nor any mention of product lifespan being a criteria for rating any of the manufacturers. The ranking is entirely based on use of toxic chemicals and approach to recycling.

Nor is there any mention in this ranking, as the poster states above, of the Apple iPod. The suggestion by the poster that Apple has “designed” the iPod for a short lifespan just beause some user feels it is obsolete after two years is ludicrous. If anything, that has to do with the rapid rate of innovation in iPods, and an obvious sense of the poster that he is being left behind.

Likewise, the fact that some users have had their iPod replaced by Apple after failure is a sign of intention design for short life is ludicrous. Clearly, Apple gains no benefit by replacing failed products under warranty.

In short, the Greenpeace report is useful – it ranks Apple as the worst 10th of the 14th manufacturers listed – but the suggestion that this ranking is based on product life is intentionally misleading.

10/01/06 @ 21:39
Comment from: admin [Member]  

Baloney Buster, here is an excerpt from http://www.greenpeace.org/apple/itox.html which conveniently mentions the iPod and the short lifespan all in the same paragraph:

Product life span

We get angry when our iPod breaks just after the one-year warranty expires. We get annoyed when Apple says it’s cheaper to buy a new one than fix the old one. We hate it when we are reduced to selling our old PowerBook keyboard on eBay for five bucks. These are common consumer woes resulting from Apple designing products with short life spans. If Apple had to take back its old products, you can bet it would start designing longer lasting products that are easier to reuse and recycle.

Apple has good taste, and we want that flavor to last.

I did not say the ranking is based on that, I said that Greenpeace’s reproaches against Apple included these. How do you want me to rephrase that so you don’t feel “intentionally mislead"?

10/01/06 @ 22:11
Comment from: Chris Murphy [Visitor]  
Chris Murphy

Does Greenpeace take into account that Apple is destroying the market for commercial DVDs and CDs? Think of all of the plastic and fossil fuel used to manufacture CDs and DVDs for music and movie collections. Downloads will save a lot of oil.

Apple pioneered fazing out other environmentally toxic technologies that waste resources such as floppy discs and cathode ray tubes (CRTs).

There is an environmentally virtuous trickle down effect for being innovative and progressive. For example, use of LCDs in computers pushes the prices down for use as televisions. Another example is that NeXT Computers (now part of Apple) enabled the invention of the world wide web. Now I never need to buy a physical newspaper again!

10/02/06 @ 10:17
Comment from: Donald Burr of Borg [Visitor]  
Donald Burr of Borg

My friend bought a Blue & White G3 when they first came out in 1999. Today, almost 7 years later, she still uses it almost daily, doing graphics and video work. It runs the latest and greatest OS X 10.4 Tiger.

I bought a PowerBook G4 “DVI” in 2002. The machine is mightily banged up and scratched up, but it still performs like a trooper, and is currently serving my parents as their primary Internet and multimedia machine.

My girlfriend’s iBook G3, purchased in 2002, has been used just about daily since then. And she would gladly continue using it daily were it not for the fact that a bunch of friends and I got her a MacBook for her birthday this year. Now the machine is happily serving her mother, who just moved from her own house into a single room in her other daughter’s house and didn’t have enough room to take her desktop computer along.

My 5 GB iPod, bought on the very day they were introduced to the masses in 2001, still works like a champ. Only this year did I have to finally replace the battery on the thing.

Now, the Sony Vaio laptop I bought in 2004, less than 2 years ago, has gotten to the “long in the tooth” phase just this year. The latest and greatest software is just too sluggish on the thing, and it never really handled media editing very well. I replaced it in April of this year with a shiny new MacBook Pro, and I suspect that the MBP will be occupying my laptop bag for many years to come.

How’s THAT for Apple product longevity?

10/02/06 @ 20:17
Comment from: Firoz [Visitor]  
Firoz

Well, the Apple fans are out in force. Some of the arguments put forward to exonerate Apple are, frankly, laughable.

PCs can have just as long a lifespan as a Mac - there are thousands, if not millions of PCs put to use running earlier versions of software that do a perfectly good job for their users.

What’s more, the modular nature of the PC means you don’t have to upgrade the whole machine when you want to spruce up some aspect of it - unlike the rather more limiting and closed nature of another prominent computer manufacturer.

As for phasing out CRT’s and floppy drives - come on, Apple didn’t do this for environmental reasons. All major PC manufacturer sell LCDs simply because prices have fallen and quality has risen. It’s the volume of sales in the PC market that drives down the cost of PC components - something that Apple users benefit from too.

Can’t people simply accept that Apple doesn’t have a sterling environmental record? Just because you like or love a company’s products doesn’t mean you owe them undying, uncritical loyalty.

10/02/06 @ 21:44
Comment from: robcraine [Visitor]  
robcraine

Didn’t Apple make a bit of a green push a year or so ago when they started offering to recycle your old computers if you bought a new mac?

I don’t know if that is a very effective green idea (does the positive recycling counteract teh negative individual shipping?) but it shows they have been thinking about the situation.

10/04/06 @ 13:01
Comment from: Shocker Shawn [Visitor]  
Shocker Shawn

Holly frick! When did it become evil for a corporation to make mullah?

If the results just happen to be “green", even better. I know it comes to an unending circle of consumers requesting green products vs. producers providing them at a price consumers will purchase them.

Gas prices are already creating a demand for alternative fuel sources and there will have to be some sort of major event (global warming beyond imagination) to have consumers demand more green products. In the end, it always comes to money, both in the pockets of the consumer and corporation. In the end, they both control each other.

10/05/06 @ 17:28
Comment from: Reggie [Visitor]  
Reggie

Electronics are basically an environmental nightmare - plastics, toxic chemicals, heavy metals, known carcinogens - all rolled up into a plastic box for 1,000,000 years. Yux.

The BEST thing for Apple is to look where Going Greener will $ave the Green - and improve the bottom line. Being Environmentally smart saves money and increases profits.

Examples: Less packaging, cheaper storage, cheaper shipping, more units sold per square foot - important in Apple retail.

On the manufacturing side: use more environmentally friendly manufacturing - reducing costs by using less chemicals and producing less waste - because wasted materials IS wasted money.

Going Green = Making Green. It’$ $mart!

10/08/06 @ 03:38
Comment from: Dobbshead [Visitor]  
Dobbshead

If you have a look on the Greenpeace Apple site http://www.greenpeace.org/apple/itox.html, there’s a timeline thing with this entry:

“04/2004 Greenpeace Chemical Home database launched; Apple graded red on their chemical policy.”

So the Apple environmental page appearing 2 months later in June 2004 could still be put down to Greenpeace’s actions.

And given that Greenpeace first pestered Apple in 2004, the reduced packaging announcement in 2006 can’t really be classed as lighting fast reactions.

10/09/06 @ 10:18
Comment from: Fred Fnord [Visitor]  
Fred Fnord

All right, let’s see.

First: Steve Jobs does indeed have a very tin ear when it comes to recycling and green policies. There was a contingent inside Apple for many years who would, every time there was a company meeting where Steve took Q&A, stand up and ask when Apple was going to get a real recycling program going, get some better environmental policies in place, etc. Steve never once answered that I know of, and was a total dick about it at least once that I recall, though there were never any of the famous Steve firings, so I guess it wasn’t that bad. (I worked there for a while.) I don’t really understand it, since he’s very progressive in a lot of other ways.

Two: Greenpeace is a flawed organization, but they do far more good than harm, unless of course you think that environmentalism is evil. As for the sewage dumping thing, I’ve looked and been unable to find anything about it online. Assuming it did happen, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was done because the Alaskan government really really really hates Greenpeace (they do) and wanted to discredit them in the best way they could (they do) and thus trumped up some false charges and told them to push off.

Three: Consumer Reports and other studies have shown that Macs do, in fact, have a longer useful lifetime than other computers, break down less, etc. What Apple does not do is sell replacement parts at reasonable prices, when the product is out of warrantee.

Four: Irrespective of three, Macs also are used for longer, on average, than PCs. A PC on average (these numbers are as of almost five years ago, but I frankly doubt they’ve changed much) is replaced after two and a half to three and a half years, a Mac on average every five years. And no, nobody has to replace their PC every three years. But that’s what happens on average.

Five: The first time Greenpeace complained about Apple shipping short-lived products, it was because Apple wasn’t offering battery replacement on their iPods after warrantees were up. At all. ‘Just buy a new one.’ Yeah. Right. Shortly thereafter, Apple started offering it quite expensively. Shortly after that, Apple’s price came down. (And yes, pressure, blah blah, dissatisfied customers, blah, I’m not saying they did it right, that they did it out of the goodness of their own hearts, I’m just saying that they eventually did it). Greenpeace’s language has not changed.

Admittedly, I did replace my iPod (which I bought used) after two years, but that was because I, uh, lost it. As it turns out, in my backpack. Found it about a month after I bought a replacement. Oops.

Incidentally, Apple’s current corporate HQ is on a former Superfund site. Motorola had a huge manufacturing plant there, and managed to ‘accidentally’ dump an enormous amount of waste into the soil there. The place was toxic as all get-out. Apple bought it and took out so much soil that there was room for a very large underground parking garage. Not that I’m applauding them for it, particularly: it was probably the cheapest way to get that much land in Cupertino, even at the time.

I think really the issue here is everyone holds Apple up to a higher standard than they do everyone else, and then when they fail to measure up, it feels like more of a betrayal. Frankly, I’m all for that: someone needs to be a leader in this area, and if we could pistol-whip Apple (a relatively high-margin player which could probably afford to be on the bleeding edge of environmentalism) into getting out there and leading, we’d have a hell of a lot better chance of getting some of the other companies to go along.

-fred

10/10/06 @ 05:23
Comment from: Christian carter [Visitor]  
Christian carter

Just a note that the environment page on Apple’s site was NOT put up solely because of this green move (as it’s sort of hinting at in your post). It has been up for a while, just not publicized as much.

10/11/06 @ 11:39
Comment from: Christian Ter [Visitor]  
Christian Ter

Just a note that the environment page on Apple’s site was NOT put up solely because of this green move (as it’s sort of hinting at in your post). It has been up for a while, just not publicized as much.

10/17/06 @ 10:57
Comment from: Aaron Antrim [Visitor]  
Aaron Antrim

The Greenpeace site is one of the best examples of activism calling for corporate responsibility I have ever seen. I believe Apple is behind many other companies in the industry in this area, but regardless, it makes sense to go after Apple because they are the industry leader. If Apple makes a major push to become more sustainable and markets this, the rest of the industry will gradually follow.

10/30/06 @ 18:25
Comment from: Mindy [Visitor]
Mindy

Consumer Reports and other studies have shown that Macs do, in fact, have a longer useful lifetime than other computers, break down less, etc. What Apple does not do is sell replacement parts at reasonable prices, when the product is out of warrantee.

02/11/08 @ 02:56
Comment from: sam [Visitor]  
sam

i couldnt be stuffed to read the rest of the snippets above but i can’t really say what apple is going to do to improve its green rating? reducing 52% of the packaging but was that a proposal or a sight because this topic was posted in 2006 and im posting in 2008 and was wondering if apple have really done anything to improve the green rating of their products not only directly at the ipods but all of their products and accessories? i can see from today ipod packaging is not as thick back then but still has quite a thick layer of plastic..

Just curious XD

03/04/08 @ 12:10