August 29, 2006 7:33 AM PDT

Greenpeace, Apple clash over toxic waste

The environmental track records of Apple Computer and Lenovo Group have been singled out for criticism by environmental group Greenpeace in a report on toxic chemicals used by the technology industry.

The Guide to Greener Electronics, published late last week, is designed to help consumers and businesses gauge how green tech companies are. Rather than focusing on recycling, customers wanting to buy green should focus on the toxic chemicals used by tech suppliers, Greenpeace claims.

"The scoring is weighted more heavily on the use of toxic substances in production rather than criteria on recycling because until the use of harmful substances is eliminated in products, it is impossible to secure 'safe,' toxic-free recycling," Greenpeace said in a statement.

Nokia and Dell came out top in the ranking, with the Finnish handset manufacturer leading the way in 2005 by eliminating use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in its products. Dell also has set ambitious targets for cutting its use of PVC and brominated flame retardants (BFRs), according to Greenpeace.

Lenovo and Apple fared less well, with the Chinese PC manufacturer ranked last. Greenpeace claimed that Lenovo earned some points for its chemicals management and voluntary take-back programs but needs to do better on all criteria.

A Lenovo representative said the company meets worldwide environmental regulations and argued that Greenpeace's ranking doesn't accurately reflect its environmental record.

"We sell our products primarily to commercial enterprises, not consumers, and we offer recycling services on a bid basis to any commercial customer with whom we do business. Those bid services do not appear on our Web site, and company Web sites were noted as one of the main sources for Greenpeace's evaluation," the representative added.

The environmental group also said that Apple could do more to match its environmental record with its hip and trendy image. "It is disappointing to see Apple ranking so low in the overall guide. They are meant to be world leaders in design and marketing; they should be world leaders in environmental innovation."

A representative for Apple disagreed with Greenpeace's rating and the criteria it had chosen. "Apple has a strong environmental track record and has led the industry in restricting and banning toxic substances such as mercury, cadmium and hexavalent chromium, as well as many BFRs. We have also completely eliminated CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors, which contain lead, from our product line," the representative said.

The EU Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive, which limits the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment, went into force in the U.K. on July 1 and should go some way toward forcing the technology industry to clean up its act.

In July, Palm was forced to stop shipping its Treo 650 smart phone in Europe, because it violated the RoHS directive.

Andrew Donoghue of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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substance, recycling, Lenovo, representative, Apple Computer

20 comments

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It's all politics
Greenpeace has embarassed itself once again. Its' criteria, and
motivation, for this kind of report is beyond silly. It makes one
wonder which computer CEO donated more to the Greenpeace
cause, and how they were rated. Apple's response to this nonsense
was exactly right.
Posted by savvydude (90 comments )
Reply Link Flag
IF Apple's on the list, for CNet the story is about Apple
Seriously, this is getting ridiculous. Day by day, CNet loses whatever journalistic integrity it had as it "diggs" for page views.

I remember when they cared.
Posted by M C (598 comments )
Reply Link Flag
conspiracy theory...
give it a few more hours and this message board will be filled with conspiracy theories on how Dell, HP, Nokia and Lenovo have paid Greenpeace to produce these reports against Apple...
Posted by cary1 (924 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Well, almost
Lenovo probably didn't get the memo if that's the case.
Posted by airwalkery2k (117 comments )
Link Flag
Apple has very sound company policies
Alright, this is a bogus article. I've been working with manufacturers in the Guangzhou area of China and know many of the CE manufacturers there.

Many companies making CE products, toys etc. for export are having no control of their local polution in China and are following RoHS regulations only when forced to it. You can't imagine the conditions in some factories there and how cost focused everything is. You would never like to jog outside in this "world's electronics manufacting area" because the air is incredibly dirty.

So when Apple factually is a leader in both environmental and work condition policies it's sad to see such article. Obviously most other companies can learn from them.

Perhaps many people don't know this, but when you buy a product even from a well-known brand, it's often manufactured through a contract manufacturer you never heard about and many of these have their own not very impressive policies. And it's even getting worse when you look at the sub-suppliers that are often never in direct contact with the customer of the contract manufactorer. It would be a surprise if not relatively many Chinese factory workers are dying of cancer after a few years working in these companies.

Apple products are RoHS compliant today by the way.

Perhaps an article about the outstanding company policies of Apple would be a much more valuable article? It would perhaps help put a bit pressure on the real sinners...
Posted by peter.mortensen (119 comments )
Link Flag
Greenpeace knows nothing if they go after Apple
Alright, this is a bogus article. I've been working with manufacturers in the Guangzhou area of China and know many of the CE manufacturers there.

Many companies making CE products, toys etc. for export are having no control of their local polution in China and are following RoHS regulations only when forced to it. You can't imagine the conditions in some factories there and how cost focused everything is. You would never like to jog outside in this "world's electronics manufacting area" because the air is incredibly dirty.

So when Apple factually is a leader in both environmental and work condition policies it's sad to see such article. Obviously most other companies can learn from them.

Perhaps many people don't know this, but when you buy a product even from a well-known brand, it's often manufactured through a contract manufacturer you never heard about and many of these have their own not very impressive policies. And it's even getting worse when you look at the sub-suppliers that are often never in direct contact with the customer of the contract manufactorer. It would be a surprise if not relatively many Chinese factory workers are dying of cancer after a few years working in these companies.

Apple products are RoHS compliant today by the way.

Perhaps an article about the outstanding company policies of Apple would be a much more valuable article? It would perhaps help put a bit pressure on the real sinners...
Posted by peter.mortensen (119 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Read the report first!
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/greener-electronics-guide" target="_newWindow">http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/greener-electronics-guide</a>

You'll see that the report covers RoHS and other regulatory requirements (plus some issues that are beyond the scope of current regulations).

Greenpeace has done a good job with this report. Key findings link back to policy documents from the companies themselves.

Admittedly, no company can achieve every goal immediately.

Now I'd like to see a report on short-term, low-tech, low-cost improvements such as:

- User-replaceable batteries in MP3 players -- to slow down the disposal rate by prolonging the economic life of these devices.

- Energy-efficient switching-type power supplies for electronic devices with external transformers -- to reduce indirect pollution by reducing electricity consumption.

- More efficient built-in power supplies for desktop computers -- same goal as above.

- Conveniently located "hard" off switches for low-voltage electronics -- to eliminate "standby" power consumption.
Posted by rpms (96 comments )
Link Flag
Link To Guide
Guide to Greener Electronics

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/greener-electronics-guide" target="_newWindow">http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/greener-electronics-guide</a>
Posted by john55440 (1020 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Well, thats it, no Mac for me!
After all, I _care_ about the environment, unlike those people at Apple, appearently.
Posted by (402 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I'll buy 'em then!
Mac users keep their machines in service much longer than typical
PC users. While your old machines are probably in a landfill, mine
are passed down to friends and relatives.

Have a nice day!
Posted by lesfilip (496 comments )
Link Flag
wow knee jerk
reminds me of that 1984 lemmings ad ..
Posted by boyfromoklahoma (1 comment )
Link Flag
More CNET trash
Any one who believes what they read in CNET needs to get their
head adjusted.
Posted by thomcarl (72 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Greenpeace are wackos
Greenpeace are wackos. Who cares what they say?
I'm sure if Apple paid their protection money, they wouldn't have been singled out. Someone should ask Greenpeace how much CO2 the Rainbow Warrior produces.
Posted by lingsun (482 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If only your car was as efficient as the RW
You might want to have a look at how Greenpeace have modified as much as possible every component of their ships so that they have as benign an impact on the environment as possible <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.greenpeace.org/international/about/ships" target="_newWindow">http://www.greenpeace.org/international/about/ships</a>.
The way Greenpeace conducts their direct actions, the ships are a neccessary part of the process. While they do have a negative impact on the environment(something Greenpeace has never denied) the point is they are doing as much as they can to reduce that impact, something that we should all try to do as well.
Posted by shantipole (2 comments )
Link Flag
Apple is an environmental leader after all
I've just discovered that the US EPA's procurement website for
green IT equipment ranks Apple as a top performer. Apple
desktop, portable and computer monitors clean the floor on the
2006 international IEEE standard for environmental assessment
www.epeat.net

Perhaps Greenpeace's campaign was more of a piggy-back strategy
off one of the worlds most successful brands. Shame....I hope they
didn't waste too much campaign money?
Posted by stephruss1973 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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