Greenpeace Slams Apple for Poor Environmental Record

Dennis Faas's picture

You'd think a company named after a fruit would be particularly adept at marketing products that are safe for the environment. Not so in the case of Apple, who once again has been targeted by Greenpeace in the latter's tenth Guide to Greener Electronics.

According to a recent advertisement airing on American TV, Apple's new Macbooks (well-received by most technology critics) are "The world's greenest family of notebooks." This particular ad shirks many other features that make the Macbook so great, including its processing, memory, and graphics powers. It seems an indication that the Cupertino-based company is increasingly aware of a consumer base that demands green electronics. (Source:

However, it seems just because a company like Apple markets towards this crowd doesn't mean environmentalism has eeked its way into research and design.

In its recent Guide to Greener Electronics, Greenpeace lauds Apple for building notebooks free of rather toxic flame retardants (known as BFRs) and vinyl plastics that sit in landfills for eons. Apple's Macbooks also consume very little power, and Greenpeace has acknowledged that achievement.

However, Greenpeace is less than enthused with Apple's overall green performance. In their report, environmentalists argue that Apple "needs to commit to phasing out additional substances with timelines, improve its policy on chemicals and its reporting on chemicals management." Despite attempts to make a more efficient laptop and use materials that are less damaging to the environment, Apple, according to Greenpeace, still fails to provide apt waste management or fully report on the environmental impact their products might have. As a result, Apple scored merely a 4.3 out of 10 under Greenpeace's rankings, putting it well behind industry competitors Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Acer who exhibited stronger environmental policies. (Source:

For its part, Apple has refused to acknowledge the Greenpeace report. A spokesperson merely pointed out the company's "Apple and the Environment" section of its web site, which includes environmental performance reviews of its products.

In the end, Apple has improved the "greenness" of its notebook computers, but so too have competitors. The fact that the company was hesitant to work closely with Greenpeace has also raised some serious doubts about Apple's commitment to producing environmentally-sound digital media devices.

Finally, it's another example that the company might need to think carefully before making such boastful claims in its advertisements. The Greenpeace report highlights problems with a TV ad only days after British television authorities ordered the removal of a spot proclaiming the "really fast" speed of its iPhone.

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