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Apple Refuses to Step Up Sustainability Reporting

green apple

After a years of being the loser, Apple is now a leader when it comes to green manufacturing. Last year, the company became the first electronics maker to completely eliminate toxic PVC plastic and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) from its products. And just last week, we praised Apple for rising through the ranks of the Greenpeace Guide to Electronics. But perhaps our praise came too soon, as recent reports claim that Apple is opposing two shareholder petitions to increase sustainability reporting. We have to ask—what is Apple trying to hide?

As You Sow, a foundation for corporate responsibility, is asking Apple to create a sustainability report much like those already issued by companies including IBM, HP, and Dell. A different shareholder group is requesting that the company set up a board committee on sustainability. Apple opposes both petitions on the grounds that it has already taken appropriate measures to protect the planet. Specifically, the company claims that its environmental Web site "represents the most comprehensive accounting of any electronics company's carbon footprint".

The Apple Environment Web site is comprehensive, to be sure, but it's hard to compare the company's efforts to those of other electronics manufacturers without an annual sustainability report. And we can't figure out what the reasoning is behind Apple's rejection of a board committee on sustainability, even if the company is already doing more than its peers. Since when is Apple satisfied with being marginally ahead of its competitors in any arena?

[Via Triple Pundit]

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  • John Carlisle

    Is this any great surprise? You wont find the John R. Carlisle Institute releasing our sustainability report either. Companies won't release it until they are either 1. forced to or 2. think it will make them more money.

    John R. Carlisle

  • ben capozzi

    Is this really a story?

    "Outrageously Successful But Notoriously Closed Company Thinks They're Doing Fine"


    There are likely dozens of stories about folks asking Apple to do all sorts of things Apple likely thinks it's already got a handle on. (App store submission process?) Seems like an Apple story for the sake of an Apple story because, "Hey, people click on those." I know I did.


  • Jesse Poe

    And what about their retail stores?

    When I worked for Apple, I wrote a proposal to re-purpose their retail t-shirts, which they amass millions and refuse to donate/recycle. Employees are forbidden to give them away, sell them or recycle them.

    This proposal was for a trial event which was for their Flagship store at 5th Ave, and with success hopefully rolled out across the chain. Fifth Ave alone generates aprox. 11,000 t-shirts a year which are not allowed to be donated or recycled.

    The proposal's program was free, the benefits gigantic. Yet, this proposal was denied.

    Reason: Apple donates $$ to the Red Cross. The idea of lowering the carbon footprint in their retail stores is not of interest. End of story.

    Here are highlights of the proposal for the Fifth Ave. store:

    Apple Fifth Avenue and it employees, the soul of the company, need to responsibly deal with the excess number of t- shirts that fill all of our closets. With the launch of each new product or slogan, our previous t-shirts cannot be worn nor donated. A full-time employee in one year may acquire 16-20 t-shirts, even more, multiplied by the number of employees at Fifth Avenue alone, we are approaching 11,000 t-shirts a year; a significant foot print on today’s trampled earth. In this age of increasingly limited resources, and uniquely global challenges and needs, corporate irresponsibility is not an option. It is not enough to merely recycle. Apple, as the company of the future, and we, Fifth Avenue, it’s greatest voice to the world wide public and feedback to Apple Inc., must set an example of revitalizing instead of recycling, helping those around us in need, and creating an expectation for other companies to follow our example, and thereby bolstering our shared commitments to human dignity and collective responsibility. Not simply removing our own footprint, but pounding a path that others can follow in, a path that returns our endeavors to an ecosystem, embracing the people around us, the planet we live on and making a profit in a manner we can be proud of, giving back from our bounty in a time of need.

    Benefits and Expenditures

    • cost of t-shirts and t-shirt drive: $0.00
    expected number of t-shirts minimum of 2,000
    • cost of batting/filling $0.00 donated
    • cost of labor: $0.00 donated by school students
    • cost of transportation: $0.00 metro cards are free thanks to Apple

    TOTAL COST: $0.00

    • output: twin 66" x 90" (8-10 shirts) full 70" x 90" (10-12 shirts) • approx. minimum: 200 comforters

    • invaluable
    • positive impact on our team
    • positive impact on the environment
    • positive impact on the homeless
    • positive impact on the social/shelter workers who give their lives to help others
    • positive impact on the corporate community, by creating expectations of excellence and innovation towards
    renewal as a means of recycling
    • incredible Sustainable Development Marketing that wholly embraces the the three P’s of SD marketing; people,
    planet and profit
    • our example will undoubtedly inspire others to buy our products, but if we inspire one person to create another initiative like ours we have won! The possible spin-out of positive results for our team, our company, our society, our planet, and the possibility to bring those into an new idea of ecosystem, makes it the greatest gain possible.

    We could horde our high-profile t-shirts, we could even recycle them, or we could use them to impact our team, our community, and our planet. We can make a difference in people’s lives who need it now, by giving warmth to those who are cold and without. We can impact our community by returning the hope that people have lost in corporate America by acting with dignity and decorum. We can impact the industry by creating an expectation to revitalize and renew. We can strengthen our brand by not only saying we recycle and use environmentally friendly materials, but by showing it. This project may only be a few hundred small bright blue drops in an ever darkening sea, but we can be assured that our effort and the bright unforgettable colors that have come to mark Apple’s commitment to excellent service in our stores will be a ripple that becomes a wave, which will be an example to all, as well as a warmth in the night and in the hearts of those they touch in a new revitalizing way.