Apple has never done particularly well in Greenpeace’s quarterly Guide to Greener Electronics. In the most recent guide it ranked near the bottom, at number 11 out of 18 electronics manufacturers. The company has taken some steps towards sustainability in recent years–most significantly by eliminating toxic chemicals like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardant (BFR) from its laptops. But Apple took its biggest step last Friday with the introduction of its Apple and the Environment website, which reveals all the dirty details of the company’s environmental practices, including its overall carbon emissions (10.2 million metric tons, more than 2 million metric tons over HP’s and Dell’s reported emissions).
The website features a lifecycle analysis of Apple products, information on packaging, material use, CO2 emissions per hour of product use, individual product environmental reports, and a timeline of Apple’s environmental achievements.
Apple’s disclosures seem likely to boost its rankings in the Guide to Greener Electronics–one of Greenpeace’s complaints has been that Apple has not offered enough information on its practices.
Now that Apple has given away its emissions secrets, will other electronics manufacturers feel pressured to do the same? Daniel Hall, the Market Solutions Director at ForestEthics, once explained to me that green rankings are complicated by the unwillingness of many manufacturers to reveal their inner workings. If every electronics maker agrees to the same level of disclosure as Apple, consumers will finally know where each company stands. Even better, the manufacturers themselves will have quality data to help them best their competitors’ environmental practices.