Take a poll on any city street, and you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t admire Apple’s clean, innovative product design. In the past 5 years, with the success of the iPod and power PCs, Mac has come to dominate the high-end consumer electronic space, with their clean, minimalist aesthetic. With such a prestigious design-driven brand, one would think that Apple would be leading the way in the green design revolution. Sadly, this is not the case – Apple is actually lagging behind companies like Dell and HP – and because of this, Greenpeace has spearheaded a creative campaign to green Apple.

Greenpeace launched their Green My Apple Campaign in September of 2006, with the claim that Apple products contain unsafe levels of PVC and BFR, toxins known to release carcinogenic dioxins when incinerated. While other companies have responded to Greenpeace’s demand for total transparency in chemical policy reporting, Apple has remained opaque.

In response to Greenpeace’s latest low rating of Apple in its Guide to Green Electronics, Apple spokesperson Sherly Seitz responded: “Apple has a strong environmental track record and has led the industry in restricting and banning toxic substances such as mercury, cadmium and hexavalent chromium, as well as many BFRs,” or brominated flame retardants.

But Apple’s does not publish information about which BFRs remain in their products, or a plan for phasing out PVCs. Which means, they no longer lead the industry, since other manufacturers have set timelines or have phased out these toxins completely. Why does Apple remain silent about its specific environmental plans? Since Apple won’t tell us why, we can only speculate.

One possible reason is that Apple is secretive, carefully planning the launch of each new product, sequestering small design teams to crack the iPod and the upcoming iPhone. Driven by creative CEO Steve Jobs, the company does not design by focus group or committees, but by prototyping their way to an interconnected, brilliantly designed iconic vision. The idea of cowering to a pesky environmental group, and disclosing the material-level reality of their products, is not the way Apple likes to operate.

Our call to Apple goes beyond Greenpeace’s attack. Apple stands for ingenuity. Macs are the power tool for the creative class. Steve Jobs is a business hero, an example of how to thrive in an age of globalization, media fragmentation, and rapid technological change. iTunes alone was a brilliant, green-by-default business model that instantly impacted the production of polluting CDs and DVDs.

Apple, we know you can point the way. Leapfrog your current position to lead the design and tech industry in this next wave of the green business revolution. We’re keeping the faith.

+ Green My Apple

Finally, we’d like to commend Greenpeace for launching such a fun and web savvy campaign. Its not often that environmental activism gets so creative and interactive. A big part of Greenpeace’s push involves calling on Mac users to submit self-created T-shirt designs, advertisements and videos to promote the Green My Apple campaign. We encourage all of you who aren’t already entering OUR T-SHIRT CONTEST, to submit some stuff to the Green My Apple campaign. But only after you have entered our T-shirt contest!


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  1. hasan almasawi November 8, 2009 at 3:16 am

    new invention searching for reliable patent

    It is possible and easy to convert dried zoon in earth to green and retch with out using existing energy resources

  2. Arkai May 7, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    It looks like it’s time to bring this post upto date. Take a look at Apple’s web site and it will list the progress it has make in eliminating hazardous materials in its products and are actually doing more than most other electronics companies. Of course I don’t have the resources to verify these claims just as I don’t have the resources to verify the garbage that Greenpeasce, Al Gore, Arnold Schwarznegger, Diane Feinstein spew out either. When I see Arnolds Humvees dismantled, Al start turning off his lights at his manson, Diane stop zipping across the country in jets and Greenpeace perminatly dock its boat, I’ll turn of my Imac and Ipod.

  3. Tom April 26, 2007 at 10:38 am

    I work for Greenpeace, firstly thanks Jen for your good article on the green my apple campaign to positively push Apple to be a green leader and set an example the rest of the electronics industry will follow.

    To address some of the subsequent comments made which seem to mostly stem from misunderstandings or opinions that Greenpeace is picking only on Apple.

    We have been working on the issue of toxic chemicals and e-waste for several years now. Back in 2002/3 we first wrote to many of the leading electronics companies including Apple about toxics chemicals and product stewardship/recycling.

    In 2005 we singled out HP for their toxic chemicals in products before they committed to improved practices in 2006. Before we published our green guide to electronics every company received their ranking to correct any mistakes in their ranking. Many companies have changed their policies for the better since the ranking was first published, but Apple has been one of the hold outs

    We didn’t target Apple for this reason. Apple is the design and innovation leader of the industry that other companies follow. Many of the other companies have committed make cleaner products but if Apple where to lead the way it would change the industry much quicker. We want Apple to be at the forefront of green technology, and to clearly show other companies how to do it the right way.

    Our campaign doesn’t have a negative “don’t buy Apple their evil” style despite the obviously media short cut to say it’s a Greenpeace v Apple fight. Apple has massive brand loyalty with customers who really care about their Apple – hence we are running the campaign to involve Apple users to show Apple their own customers want them to be a green leader.

    As for Apple highlighting their EPEAT ranking – well no company gets the gold ranking from EPEAT, that’s where a company who is a green leader would be ranked. EPEAT is a procurement guide on specific products. EPEAT does not require elimination of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) or Brominated Fire Retardants — two types of toxic chemicals that other manufacturers have already agreed to phase out. As EPEAT itself says:

    However, Scot Case, marketing director at EPEAT, insisted there was no contradiction between the two ranking systems’ findings and that neither could be used to prove the inaccuracy of the other. “My initial reaction was that comparing the two systems was like comparing apples and oranges, but on closer inspection it is more like comparing apples and cows,” he said. “EPEAT focuses on ranking the products, Greenpeace is looking at the whole company.”

    As for Patrick Moore, he’s now just a consultant who hires his services to the highest paying polluting industry. And roughlydrafted is hardly an objective critic considering his entire site is devoted to promoting Apple and is known for his misleading comments. He also makes basic errors like claiming Greenpeace is trying to get money from computer companies when Greenpeace doesn’t take money from any companies or governments.

    Since the launch of the green my apple site over a million people have viewed it, thousands of blogs have mentioned the campaign, more than 40,000 people have emailed Steve to go green and many mac users have sent in procreations or hugged their macs on the flickr group.

    Like Jennifer we are keeping the faith that Apple will listen to these customers asking them to be green.


  4. john April 17, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    i hope everyone (author included) will take the time to read the following report: i’m not an apple fanboy by any means, but i am in favor of responsible reporting and hearing both sides of the issue.

  5. Dave Schmetterer April 14, 2007 at 6:57 pm

    All –

    First of all, the EPEAT program, based on IEEE’s standards for the reduction of e-waste show Apple at or near the top in all computer categories. Tower, Notebook, Integrated (imac) and monitor.

    One reason the notebooks are on top is they are made with aluminum cases, which is very reclaimable and does not contain toxic fire retardants.

    Additionally, Apple hardware and software runs for a long, long time. In my house, we have 3 Macs, running the latest version of OS X.4. One is an iMac from 1999, one an iMac from 2002, and one a PowerBook from 2004. The notebook was bought used. Apple does not force an upgrade cycle – even when they switch OS’s, or chip architecture (PowerPC to Intel), they continue to support the legacy software. They are effectively managing the upgrade cycle for us, much better than their operating system counterparts.

    Additionally, this summer I’ve got two beachball iMacs being brought to me for upgrading – new software and more RAM will keep them going for years.

    Additionally, Apple hardware is very standardized. If you have one PowerBook of a certain model, you can swap parts with any other PowerBook of that model. Since they only sell one tower, one consumer notebook, one imac, two pro notebooks (mainly a screen difference), and one small form pc at a time, it is easy to find replacement parts. The same cannot be said for the Wintel world of PCs. Incompatibilities arise from parts being supplied by the lowest bidder at any time.

    iPod batteries, by the way, will wear out. But they are not irreplaceable. It iis an expensive battery pack, in an expensive item. I’ve replaced the pack myself, the only tool you need is a credit card for prying, not buying (at least for my older model – which STILL works).

    So Greenpeace’s attack on Apple is just way, way off base.

    If you don’t believe me, look up the EPEAT recommendations.


  6. Nick Simpson April 14, 2007 at 6:17 am

    To the best of my knowledge (I don’t have an ipod, they’re hugely overpriced for what you’re actually getting) the ipods have been upgraded and changed and being at uni at the moment I’ve seen numerous people talking about how they have “the latest model”. I really think the marketing is just very clever, they make people think that by going with an apple product they’re above the idea of trends and fashions. So why is the ipod one of the must-have fashionable items?!

    As for being fair to apple, I can only assume they were picked out as the market leader. Get them to turn greener and the rest must follow (or even attempt to go even greener as a selling point). They’re big boys, they can handle it…

  7. Lynn April 12, 2007 at 7:04 am

    I’ve read their reports on computer manufacturers last year and it did bear down heavily on Apple. The report seemed to me like it was just an introduction to their campaign for Apple to become greener.

  8. J April 11, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    “not trendy enough in comparison to the latest model (and when I say “we”, I mean society as a whole). If any company is based upon image, looking cool and having the latest, trendy mp3 player/computer/laptop, it’s Apple.”

    as a designer, I’d have to say the beauty of the iconic apple design is the fact that it is NOT trend based. Unlike other electronic companies, apple does not need to give its products “face-lifts” for every new generation and new product released. “why should apple be protected”?? no one is saying that at all, all we ask for is a fair and balanced campaign run by green peace against the electronics industry as a whole. I still fail to see what apple has done to solicit this kind of special attention – being successful? Apple deserves to be reprimanded at the same scale as every other electronic company, nothing more and nothing less.

  9. Nick Simpson April 10, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    I’m with Timo on this one – I don’t see why Apple should be protected from criticism..? In terms of the life cycle of their products, they last as long as almost all other electricals do – until we see them as old, under-powered and/or not trendy enough in comparison to the latest model (and when I say “we”, I mean society as a whole). If any company is based upon image, looking cool and having the latest, trendy mp3 player/computer/laptop, it’s Apple. So as far as I can see they’re fair game, it’s what happens to market leaders.

    As for Patrick Moore’s article linked to by Bob, I find it bizarre. What’s wrong with trying to phase out the use of PVCs, they’re awful and deeply harmful in many cases! The use of vinyls for window frames?! They have a lifespan of about 20-30 years, warp and crack in the sun, have a much higher embodied energy than wood and can’t be easily recycled if at all. Oh, plus they’re ugly. These have been rolled out for years in the UK and in a decade or so will have to start being replaced all over again. I can only imagine the same can be said for most uses of PVCs in buildings. There are instances where they are a necessary evil but otherwise I find it very odd to attack a group that have an entirely noble campaign to phase them out.

  10. Timo April 10, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    I agree with many of the opinions expressed here (i.e., in being skeptical about Greenpeace in general), however, it only makes sense that they should target Apple if they are trying to address the industry in general. Why? Because Apple is the happy giant of the electronics industry, the face of clean design that so many others imitate, and therefore has the ability (and some would argue Responsibility) to lead by example on the environmental front.
    I think that the strategy is pretty simple.
    And while it might raise the public’s awareness of the electronics quagmire, it is probably not going to hurt our beloved Apple, Inc. significantly.

  11. Barry April 10, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    It is unfortunate that Greenpeace hasn’t taken into account the effort of Apple and their designers to produce meaningful products for consumers that remain relevant to them for a very long time. This long life cycle is encouraging in a market that tries to do the opposite. Being in a business that relies heavily on computers, our experience is that Apple products last much, much longer than other companies products and remain relevant to us well after their initial task is done.

    Example, my iPod is a second generation that works continuously every day replacing the need for hundreds of packaged cd’s and waste by-products and is not going to get retired for a long time to come. This to me is a concept that many people miss when they judge a product.

  12. AndyM April 10, 2007 at 12:49 am

    I too am puzzled by the (over) emphasis on Apple as they no worse than other computer and electronics makers in the materials and processes they use. The only difference is that they don’t greenwash like the others and bow down to Greenpeace. So it’s really about publicity for Greenpeace rather than any concern for cleaning up the computer and electronics industries.

  13. Bob Ellenberg April 9, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    I will start by disqualifying myself by saying this is not an area where I have done much research. But interestingly I have done some reading by Patrick Moore, one of the founders of Greenpeace. Patrick appeas to be true to his original committment and not of perpetuating himself but he no longer sees Greenpeace that way.

    I have read others opinions that they have lost their credibility and are more about trying to raise sensation and money than environmental awareness.

  14. Orrin April 9, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    Why is it that when it comes about that Apple is not very “green-friendly” we all want to love Apple into being “responsible” and changing. Yet when a company that turns out not to be “green-friendly” and may not have “clean, innovative product design” they are run through the gutter? Playing favorites anyone?

  15. J April 9, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    I agree that all companies should make an effort to make their products more sustainable, but come on…green peace?? These guys smashed into the coral reef they were supposed to be protecting back in 2005. Like PETA, this organization relies on crude and shocking campaings to get noticed. You gotta wonder if they truly are interested in protecting the environment or just picking on the company with the highest profile to rake in more donations. They should be addressing the entire electronics industry, not just one company. * and no, I dont own a mac or an ipod*

  16. ManxStef April 9, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    As someone who’s donated to Greenpeace in the past, I’m disappointed with this whole “anti-Apple” stance. It seems to me that Greenpeace have not done their homework properly, simply deciding to pick on the highest profile target they could find in an attempt to appeal to their own target demographic and gain the most PR.

    An article ( way back in January pointed to a handy list called EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) made up by the EPA. ( Using these ratings, which take into account the entire lifecycle of machines and seem much more through than Greenpeace’s own, Apple has the most environmentally-friendly notebooks, the 4th most eco-friendly desktops, and monitors that aren’t too bad. They’re not much better than any of the other manufacturers, but they’re certainly not the worst.

    But of course, taking a limited subset of tests in which Apple scores the lowest, then making a high profile campaign that complains loudly about it, is great publicity for Greenpeace. Nevermind focussing on the actua issues thoroughly and properly…

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