Greenpeace: Apple greener, but still has a ways to go

greenpeaceGreenpeace gave Apple some kudos on Tuesday for improving its environmental policies. But the environmental activists made clear that the iPhone maker still has a long way to go before earning Greenpeace’s stamp of approval.

Apple ranks 10th out of 17 companies in the organization’s latest report (summary; PDF) on the environmental policies of leading technology firms. That’s not only an improvement from Greenpeace’s report last fall, when the organization ranked Apple 13th, but it also puts Apple well ahead of fellow PC makers Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo.

The organization praised Apple for ramping up its program to recycle old computers and for moving to eliminate toxic chemicals such as polyvinyl chloride and brominated flame retardants from its products.

But that’s only part of the story. Greenpeace gives Mac maker a total score of 4.7 out of 10, which places the company far below electronics makers such as Sony, Samsung and Toshiba.

One of Greenpeace’s chief criticisms is lack of specific disclosures or commitments from Apple. Despite the presence of Al “An Inconvenient Truth” Gore on Apple’s board of directors, the company hasn’t given specific goals to reduce its own carbon emissions, hasn’t said whether it supports mandatory reductions of greenhouse gases and doesn’t provide company-wide data on its use of renewable energy, according to the report. The company also doesn’t disclose how much recycled plastic it uses in its products and hasn’t given a timeline for phasing out arsenic in them.

An Apple representative declined to comment on the report.

Still, Greenpeace thinks Apple can be a model to other PC makers.

“If Apple can find the solutions, there should be no reason why the other leading PC companies can not,” Casey Harrell, a toxics campaigner at Greenpeace, said in a statement.

Indeed, Apple’s score looks much better compared with that of fellow Valley PC maker HP. HP earned a 3.7 out of 10 from Greenpeace and ranked next to last in the report. Greenpeace dinged the company — and other PC makers — from backtracking on its commitment to eliminate PVCs and BFRs from its products by the end of this year. Not only will HP not meet its deadline, but it still doesn’t have any products free of those substances, Greenpeace noted.

An HP representative did not respond to a call seeking comment.

Apple came under intense scrutiny from Greenpeace and other environmental groups earlier this decade. The groups argued that Gore’s participation on the company’s board and the company’s reputation for making consumer friendly products stood in contrast to its environmental record.

In response, Apple CEO Steve Jobs wrote an open letter to consumers detailing the company’s environmental policies. The company updated its environmental report last year and has made a point recently of touting the environmental bona fides of its products.

 

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