Let’s give Apple a global high-five following Steve Jobs’ announcement Wednesday that the company will go greener. After increased pressure from environmental groups, such as Greepeace, Apple pledged it will remove arsenic — you heard me, arsenic — from its displays by 2008 and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardant (BFR) by the end of 2008. As Greenpeace says, “Way to go Steve!”
But Apple isn’t off the hook yet. Apple still won’t offer recycling in 100 percent of the countries where their products are sold and they haven’t created a completely green product. And its statements like these that make me a little nervous: “Apple plans to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of mercury…when technically and economically feasible.” Clearly, money trumps health every time.
Yet, the biggest lesson here – and the one consumers, shareholders and employees should be most proud of – is that companies must answer to industry pressure. It was letters and emails from thousands of people that made Apple confront it’s not-so-green-sheen or as Steve Jobs likes to put it, Apple was already going green but they failed to “communicate” their green efforts to their stakeholders.
That doesn’t mean we should all go out and sing kumbaya yet. Dell, Gateway, Hewlett Packard, and Lenovo all ship CRT displays, which contain three pounds of lead, and there are no completely green electronic products on the market.
Despite the known dangers associated with lead, arsenic, and mercury in electronics, Apple’s board of directors has asked shareholders to vote against the proposals. Why, you ask? Money, of course.
And one more thing Steve Jobs needs to clarify – what happens to the Apple products shipped to other countries for recycling? Or “donated” to third world countries who either don’t have the skills or the resources to utilize the “gift”? Did I hear someone say landfills?
But instead of talking about what Apple isn’t doing to become greener, let’s take today to congratulate Apple on its efforts and encourage them to do more. There will be plenty of time in the future for criticism.