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Greenpeace Pushes for a Greener Apple Computer
Ed Kohler

Greenpeace is putting the pressure on consumer electronics companies to become more green by using less toxic chemicals in their product. One company they've chosen to single out in this campaign is Apple Computer who, according to Greenpeace, is very trend-forward with product designs outside of the environmental impact of their manufacturing choices.

A Greener Apple

"It's time for Apple to use clean ingredients in all of its products, and to provide a free take-back program to reuse and recycle its products wherever they are sold. That means:
* Remove the worst toxic chemicals from all their products and production lines.
* Offer and promote free "take-back" for all their products everywhere they are sold.
We're not asking for just "good enough." We want Apple to do that "amaze us" thing that Steve does at MacWorld: go beyond the minimum and make Apple a green leader."
Greenpeace has also posed a ranking of the environmental impact of 14 top consumer electronics companies. According to Greenpeace, Nokia, Dell, Sony, and Samsung lead the group, while Apple, Acer, Motorola, and Lenovo are at the bottom.

I imagine there is a fairly strong correlation between people who buy Macs and people who are environmentally conscious. By bringing Apples less-than-stellar environmental record to the attention of Mac lovers through an Apple themed campaign site, Greenpeace may be able to motivate Apple's consumers to hold the company they love more accountable for their manufacturing choices.

Being green is an in thing right now. If Apple becomes a leader in green computing, loyal consumers will have yet another reason to boast about their products to their friends and family.


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1. Posted by: Peter on September 30, 2006 4:53 PM:

What a great idea. A green Apple is a ripe idea.

2. Posted by: paxton on September 30, 2006 5:33 PM:

Just an FYI:

Greenpeace "research" has caused Research Methods and Research Ethics professors across the country to CRINGE.

And just another FYI:

3. Posted by: Jon T on October 1, 2006 9:21 AM:

Glad someone else pointed out that Greanpeace have been exposed for sensationalising their output and that they as good as lied in their statements.

Their creditbility has been blown completely. And is it turns out, Apple is one of the most conscientious companies out there for making sure their products are safe and are always ahead of compliance requirments.

Wake up Technology Evangelist!!

4. Posted by: Stephen Russell on October 2, 2006 7:09 AM:


I've just returned from the province in China where Greenpeace took those photos. I even managed to track down that little girl what was used to pose for the camera whilst Greenpeace took pictures of her holding the Apple Mac keyboard. Here's what I found; there was indeed tons of electronic scrap, that appeared to be mainly printed circuit boards from TV's and computers as well as printer toner cartridges and peripherals from computers. But guess what, none of them were from Apple equipment. Showing the girl a photo of herself holding the Apple keyboards, I asked her how she found the Apple Mac keyboards. She said that the westerners with cameras brought them and gave them to her. They said they pay her if she agreed to hold them whilst they took pictures.

Isn't Greenpeace sailing a bit close to the ethics line here? Surely its possible to campaign for the environment without having to comprimise even the basics of accuracy and ethics?

5. Posted by: Ed Kohler on October 2, 2006 11:04 AM:

Thanks for the feedback, guys. Stephen, could you post a link to more information regarding your post? How about something with the pictures described in the post?

Jon T, I think you may be overstating Apple's environmental stance a bit. Here is some more information from a different group working to get Apple to be greener:

I write this from a MacBook pro that has an iPod plugged into it, so I'm not anti-Apple by any means. I think Greenpeace, while certainly not scientific authorities, have managed to bring consumer awareness to this important issue. Without that, Apple or any other company has a lot less incentive to make green decisions.

6. Posted by: John C. Randolph on October 2, 2006 11:34 AM:

Let's be clear on what Greenpeace is all about: it is an organization dedicated to sucking up the contributions that would otherwise go to legitmate environmentalist causes. ?Ǭ†?Ǭ†Anyone who is truly concerned about environmental issues would do far better to contribute to local efforts wherever they live.


7. Posted by: Ed Kohler on October 2, 2006 12:16 PM:

Interesting point, John. Are you suggesting that this isn't a legitimate environmental issue? Or that other organizations are more capable of actually doing something about this?

8. Posted by: Tom on October 3, 2006 9:33 AM:

The interesting point of this story and subsequent comments is Apple has issued no official response, and the only place leading the pro Apple "Greenpeace is wrong about everything' ranting is a blogger who advertises Apple products and publishes unsubstantiated claims from unnamed Apple staff. In one particularly rambling pro Apple rant he manages to attack not only Greenpeace and Computertakeback for daring to criticise Apple but also Slashdot, Boing Boing and Cory Doctrow for shamefully not publishing his Apple propaganda rants. Believe his 'facts' if you want.

Another interesting fact is the same Stephen Russell "IT consultant" who claims to have been to China in his comments here and is quoted extensively at at Roughly Drafted also as an "IT consultant" has been exposed as actually posting from an Apple IP address here.

Now that is interesting.

9. Posted by: Ed Kohler on October 5, 2006 3:03 PM:

Tom, good point about Stephen Russell. He does seem to be jumping fast into every conversation on this topic on the web. Why motivates this "IT Consultant" to jump into every conversationn like this? And why is he the ONLY person jumping into the online conversation?

Mr. Russell doesn't seem to be very good at following up to questions. For example, he didn't offer any photos to back up his claims on this site and hasn't addressed the IP address you linked to.

Is this a case of astroturfing?

10. Posted by: Brian R. Miller on October 6, 2006 2:24 AM:

I don't think that every critic of Greenpeace's questionable methodologies in this case is "astroturfing." It's bizarre that, if one is posting continually about the Greenpeace perspective from a pro-Greenpeace perspective, with advertising for GP's various initiatives, he's "ambitious."

But if he's doing so in opposition to Greenpeace's claims, he's "suspicious."

With an unbiased view, I think that Stephen brings up some very good points which Greenpeace have yet to answer fully. If GP is going to make a deliberate attempt to potentially damage Apple's business and brand with the sorts of claims they're making in a widespread fashion, they and their supporters have an ethical obligation to prove that their methodologies are beyond reproach and scientifically valid. People's livelihoods, after all, are at stake.

So far I haven't seen convincing evidence of the validity of Greenpeace's approach, and many criticisms levelled by Stephen and other folks -- from pro-Apple and anti-Greenpeace corners alike -- raise some troubling questions in my mind about the validity of the research. That the common response to these concerns is attacking the motives or honesty of the individuals themselves, rather than answering their concerns, troubles me even more.

11. Posted by: Ed Kohler on October 6, 2006 6:55 PM:

Brian, you raise some good points. Do you think Stephen Russell's accusations are fully supported considering he didn't include a link to the photos he claimed to have taken in China? If he's going to debunk Greenpeace's strategies, why not go all the way by providing evidence to back up his statements?

What makes you think Mr. Russell's statements are unbiased? Do you know what's motivating him to run around the web defending Apple and bashing Greenpeace? That doesn't sound like the behavior of someone without a bias. Claiming (or actually) flying to China to theoretically debunk a Greenpeace environmental campaign really doesn't sound like the behavior of an unbiased but interested commenter on this issue.

Why hasn't Apple addressed Greenpeace's claims? Wouldn't that be worth doing if - as you suggest - people's livelihoods are at stake?

12. Posted by: Matthew on October 27, 2006 12:52 PM:

As they say, don't kill the messenger. Greenpeace's style might offend, but they're far from the first organization to take Apple to task for its environmental record.

Apple will have a huge target on its rump as long as they let Al Gore sit on the BOD. So, as far as I'm concerned they've got several reasons to address this problem very quickly, and in dramatic way.

Apple would do well to come clean. We, Mac users, have put our money where are mouths are by buying "premium priced" CPU's, aka Macs, so I think I'm in good company when I say that there are many of us who would gladly pay more for a Mac that didn't kick the environment in the nuts.

Green will prove not only to be the right thing to do for the planet, it will soon prove to be a good move for businesses, governments, etc. It will create jobs and a cleaner planet in its wake.

13. Posted by: Pascal on October 27, 2006 10:36 PM:

Greenpeace is stupid to think that it makes a difference for Apple to go big ol' greeny-green. How about you get Duracell to clean up its act ?

14. Posted by: Flower shop delivery on October 28, 2006 11:53 AM:

Ross Lovegrove, an industrial designer is an example of good design and natural friendly designs. In the early 80's worked as a designer for frog design in west Germany on projects such as walkmans for sony, computers for apple computers, later moved to paris as a consultant to knoll international. The Welshman, who is inspired by the beauty and logic of nature, says the two very different objects remind him of the versatility of biomaterials. Lovegrove is shocked by the waste in some products, such as the average pump-action toothpaste tube, which contains three times as much plastic as an iPod. This love of the natural form earned him the nickname "Captain Organic" from Los Angeles architect Greg Lynn.

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