Apple recently released its annual supplier responsibility report and won praise from Greenpeace for reducing use of conflict minerals in its products. “Apple’s increased transparency about its suppliers is becoming a hallmark of Tim Cook’s leadership at the company,” said Greenpeace Energy Campaigner Tom Dowdall.
This is a big change from previous criticisms: in 2007, Greenpeace famously stated Apple was “at the bottom of the barrel” compared with companies like Dell and Lenovo.
Some questioned their reasoning, saying Greenpeace graded the companies on statements instead of actions:
But there’s a problem with Greenpeace’s claims. Let’s start with the issue of PVC. Apple and Dell still use it in certain parts, notably the plastic insulators on internal cabling. Still, Dell gets more credit on the PVC issue. Why? Because Dell has said it plans to stop using PVC by 2009. This even though, given its volume, Dell is flooding the world with far more PVC than Apple. Dell shipped 39 million PCs in 2006, more than seven times Apple’s 5.3 million, according to researcher IDC. Apple, too, has committed to eliminating PVC but hasn’t set a definitive date. (Arik Hesseldahl)
It certainly looked like Greenpeace was trying to create drama by using a high-profile target. They released a skewed report on the iPhone, only to later admit Apple actually complied with its internal goals as well as public legislation. As one author noted:
Greenpeace’s write-up doesn’t once compare and contrast the iPhone’s use of hazardous substances with that of any other mobile phone from any other vendor. That would have been useful: a document that, rather than whining about one vendor not moving as quickly on this issue as Greenpeace and others would like, shows consumers which handsets on the market contain the least quantities of hazardous chemicals.
Fast forward to 2014, and Greenpeace loves Apple, at least for today. And not without reason: see Apple’s renewable energy policy pages for an incredible look at their environmental standards. Over the past few years, Apple has switched from fluorescent lamps to LEDs, removed arsenic, Brominated Fire Retardants (BFRs) and Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) from its products, and has more than doubled its use of renewable energy.
Even the new Apple campus will be 100% green:
Stefan Behling, one of the Foster and Partners architects working on the project, summed the building up as “one of the most environmentally sustainable projects on this scale anywhere in the world.” The plan is for the facility to run entirely on renewable energy, drawing largely from on-site fuel cell plants and rooftop photovoltaic arrays. Natural ventilation and radiant cooling mean that the spaceship won’t need air conditioning for some 70 percent of the year.
See more at: Apple and the Environment and Greenpeace: Greener electronics. You might want to take a grain of salt with the Greenpeace Electronics Campaign Timeline, but regardless – we’re glad the industries are moving in the right direction.
- Is Greenpeace Off the Mark on Apple? – http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2007–03–29/is-greenpeace-off-the-mark-on-apple-businessweek-business-news-stock-market-and-financial-advice ↩
- http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/10/16/greenpeace_vs_apple/ ↩
- http://www.wired.com/design/2013/11/a-glimpse-into-apples-crazy-new-spaceship-headquarters/all/1 ↩