by , 08/09/07

Greener mac, green gadgets, eco-friendly computer, green computer, green laptop, Apple goes green, Steve Jobs, green apple

Apple just launched their newest line of desktop iMacs – slim, graceful, and made from glass and aluminum. “Aluminum is durable and lightweight; recyclers love it,” said Steve Jobs. “Glass is elegant, very scratch resistant and very recyclable.” These are likely the first Apple products designed with ecology and environmental issues in mind, and while the eyecandy iMac may still be a long ways off from serious ecological sustainability, we appreciate the efforts being made by Apple to integrate stylish aesthetics with more thoughtful material choices.

The launch of the gorgeous and slightly greener iMac comes months after Apple responded to criticism for the lack of a public environmental policy. In typical Jobs style, Apple would rather show than tell. The simplicity and sleekness of the iMac speaks for itself, it’s a machine made from elements we remember from the periodic table.

The iMac is powered by energy-efficient Intel Core 2 Duos, which are claimed to conform to EPA’s Energy Star guidelines. The casing is constructed from a single sheet of aluminum instead of the previous white polycarbonate. You can’t see the seams – nor the screws – just a single compartment on the bottom that provides easy access to the memory slots, and carefully built in iSight camera and microphone.

iMac detail

The newest iMac demonstrates a trend we’ve seen in eco-fashion, architecture, and furniture design: a shift from plastics and polycarbonates to more elemental materials. For years consumer electronics designs were focused on getting the maximum performance, and highest quality look, for the cheapest price. Now that the value placed on recycled parts is a consideration, will we see a shift in how decisions are made in the design phase? Years from now, will we look back on the shiny white plastic iPod as shortsighted design?

We’d love to see the Mac get even greener in the future but appreciate the small steps that Apple is taking. Mac fans out there – please do everything you can to encourage this company to go further in its environmental efforts.

+ New Apple iMac

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  2. Tanya September 17, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    I apprecaite the sleek, beautiful design ADN the (baby)steps to a greener machine. AlthoughI use pc’s this certainly makes me think twice about my next pc purchase.
    I agree that this may not be a huge jump in green evolution, but I also believe that any steps in the right direction are an improvement ove rhte old way of thinking that said we could just use it and throw it away without any regard for the consequences.
    Keep up the good work reporting on the advances that are stylish, functional and eco-friendlier!

  3. The New Greener Apple iMac August 23, 2007 at 9:04 pm

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  4. Huon Summerson August 15, 2007 at 8:43 am

    Hey looks cool even though I hate macs, but doesn’t Aluminum use tons of power?
    Just a thought/comment.

    P.S: I hate Macs.

  5. The New Greener Apple I... August 13, 2007 at 2:25 am

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  6. Michaelangelo August 12, 2007 at 7:01 pm

    Having owned PCs since my first BBC B DOS computer, I now love my macs – trouble free – clutterless elegance. I guess if more people bought Macs – they would become economically greener – This new one still retains all the qualities that would make me purchase it over a PC any day.

  7. Lee Rodrigues August 10, 2007 at 11:14 am

    I agree this is not a green machine, but it is a step in the right direction. I look forward to seeing the iMac made from recycled aluminum, because if the system can be made from aluminum is can be made from recycled aluminum.

    Check out the Epeat site

    This is a good way to see how computer manufacturers stand up as far as sustainability.

    To hear the CEO of Apple is addressing sustainable computers is not a conversation one would hear ten years ago. I am glad to see forward progress.

    Lee Rodrigues, M.A.Ed.

  8. Frank August 10, 2007 at 10:54 am

    What’s with the ‘taking apart’ thing as a better and greener solution. How does the ability of taking apart a computer make it more greener? I’d like to see you take apart a Hard drive. Or say, the CD-drive or the motherboard. You really think that the way a computer is designed internally that in the end the recycling of it will be easier?

    As for the ‘upgrading’ of the computer. People who actually have the knowledge of upgrading a computer tend to replace it anyway after a year or four, since there is only so much upgrading you’re willing to do before lagging behind in speed.

  9. Jennifer August 10, 2007 at 8:08 am

    Addressing Androo and subsequent comments:

    I concur that the iMac does not get the title of Green Machine – no manufacturer has developed a product with zero environmental impacts. But Apple gets credit for demonstrating greener behavior not through promises and corporate social responsibility statements, but for demonstrated action through design.

    The consumer electronics industry and PC manufacturers were hugely lagging in their green efforts until very recently, and are taking steps to address issues of recyclability, reduced toxicity, and reduced energy use. Baby steps or giant steps, we celebrate these at Inhabitat.

    I disagree with those that say “recyclability” doesn’t get you anywhere.

    Ewaste is a huge problem, caused by manufacturers without take-back programs, municipalities without recycling services, and PCs and Macs that were designed without recyclability as a goal.

    The choice of aluminum over polycarbonate is not a giant step, but it’s not greenwashing either. Aluminum can be recycled without any degradation in quality – which is not true for plastic. Aluminum can truly become a closed-loop material. Glass can be also be recycled indefinitely as its structure does not deteriorate when reprocessed.

    As more data gets released from Apple, I’m eager to see if they have made strides on energy efficiency as well.

    As for the seamless all-in-one design, this does not mean that parts cannot be servced or that the machine cannot be disassembled. Anyone who owns a Mac laptop has likely experienced this. Take it to your Apple store, send it back to Apple, they actually will fix it for you. And when your machine has truly run its course (4 years and counting on my Mac), if you don’t have an eWaste recycling program, Apple’s recycling partner will take it back for a $30 fee. (And yes, I agree that they should take back machines for no fee).

  10. Bryce August 9, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    I am constantly amazed at the all or nothing attitudes I so often encounter among other environmentally aware people. Any step toward better recyclability is a step in the right direction. I understand the frustration with greenwashing, and there may be some of that here, but if this product has better end of life characteristics than the previous model, I’m for it.

    Perhaps it’s only a baby step, but Apple made their new product lower in price than the one it replaces. If they are offering enhanced green qualities while dropping the price, they are making a greener product available to more people. It’s really important to recognize that while most of us who read this site are willing to pay extra for eco-friendliness, most people are not. All companies face economic pressures, and in this sense, greenwashing can actually be a good thing in the longer term. As more companies see eco-friendliness as a selling point, they will actually work harder to make their products more quantifiably green than those of their competitors and they will do so at competitive prices.

  11. Scott August 9, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    In general, I’m not a big fan of all-in one designs, because the monitor tends to have a longer useful lifespan than the CPU, and so you either end up using the CPU longer than you’d like or getting rid of a perfectly good display. But after almost 20 years in IT and systems support, I honestly feel Macs are a pretty good choice if you’re worried about waste (or wastefulness). Both my personal experience and all the data I’ve seen says that Macs (in general) tend to be in use much longer than PCs. They may not be perceived as being easily upgradeable, but their owners tend find them useful for much longer. Most of my PC users seem to be ready to get rid of their machines in three years, but it’s very normal to have Mac users stick with their machines for five or more years.

    I’ve owned four computers in the last twelve years. My five-year-old mac laptop still gets regular use, and my nine-year old Mac desktop is still useful for most tasks. Even my thirteen-year old mac laptop still runs fine, but I’m spoiled by my newer (color) machines. My Windows machine, however, died in three years, despite some upgrades . The older macs make for some IT support headaches, but they certainly aren’t wasteful.

    As for upgrading the components, except for the all-in-one issue I mentioned above, Macs are not hard at all to deal with. RAM (the thing most often upgraded) is easy to replace on a Mac and hard drives can be upgraded relatively easily or supplemented with an external drive. The rest of the machine is really easy for a technician to work on. Laptops, small models (like the mini) and all-in-one models are less easily serviceable, but that’s true no mater what company makes the machine. Take it from someone who has worked inside many Macs and PC’s, it’s typically much easier to service a Mac in every respect except getting the parts.

  12. to August 9, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    is the casing made from recycled aluminum? the process for creating new aluminum is way more detrimental to the environment than the creation of PVC. yes aluminum can be recycled – but it means nothing if the case is from a virgin source.

  13. OTI August 9, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    I concur with Androo, Apple’s aluminum and glass look has been coming for years and is present in many other elements of their products (Engadget ‘sand Gizmodo’s coverage makes that abundantly clear).

    I built my computer with an Intel chip too, but I don’t think I’m going to call it a green design anytime soon. I should probably get more points since I actually chose it instead of committing my company to the brand and lucking out.

    Clearly someone in marketing will get a pat on the back for putting an eco-spin on this…

  14. P~ August 9, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    I agree, with you Androo. I like macs for what they are, very pretty peices of technological art. note the line:
    The launch of an eco-aware iMac comes months after Apple responded to criticism for the lack of a public environmental policy.
    They didn’t just up and create this thing, more than likely it has been in the works for years, and some engineer said “Hey steve, tell ’em it’s made out of aluminum and glass; they’re recyclable.” *Poof* now we’re GREEN. It’s just veneer. I’ll update my old PC till I just can’t use it anymore.

  15. David August 9, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    good point. no matter what it’s made of, if we cant take it apart than we can recycle it. unless we want to melt it to seperate it, but that means there can be no plastic parts in there. but at least apple is taking steps, baby steps, but steps toward greener design.

  16. César August 9, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    I agree with Androo. “Recyclable” doesn’t get you anywhere. It should include recycled content like other manufacturers like HP are starting to do.
    This is the same as all the hype around apple products.
    I’m sure that if greenpeace releases another study on the “greenness” of computer manufacturers, apple is still going to be far behind, since they analyze issues that apple doesn’t seem to know that exist.
    I supposed a website like this would report about real environmental news, not just hype.

  17. Androo August 9, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    Somehow I can’t see that seamlessness being a boon to recyclers. Yes, it’s made of aluminium and glass – if it’s not easy to take apart, that’s meaningless. Say what you will about the ‘inelegance’ of the typical modular PC case, but it’s as simple as could be to retire them at the end of their life-cycle – or better yet (*gasp*) simply upgrade them and produce a whole lot less waste in the first place.

    More thinly-veiled greenwashing, and its disappointing to hear this news post come across more like a press release for Apple than a critical analysis. Sure it may be greener than in the past, but I refuse to trumpet baby steps – ecological design here is still a trivial afterthought compared to fashion.

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