April 21, 2005 2:15 PM PDT

Jobs defends Apple's record on environment

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CUPERTINO, Calif.--With Apple Computer shares having more than doubled during the past year, shareholders turned much of their attention at Thursday's annual meeting to other concerns, including environmental issues and the dearth of women in senior roles at the computer maker.

CEO Steve Jobs defended the company's record on recycling and other environmental concerns, which were the subject of a picket that attracted about a dozen protesters outside the shareholder meeting, held at the company's headquarters.

Apple protesters

After Rachel Gibson, who was speaking on behalf of an environmentally oriented mutual fund called Green Century Funds, asked why Apple wasn't doing more to take back its products, Jobs thanked Gibson for the question and launched into a lengthy speech on Apple's environmental efforts, noting that the company took back 1,500 tons of material in 2004 through its recycling program, with 90 percent of the 3 million pounds of keyboards, mice and computers able to be recycled.

"They have an image of being proactive, but they are being really reactive," said Sheila Davis, who recently took over as director of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. "Other companies like HP and Dell are really stepping forward."

Another member of the environmental group, Gopal Dayaneni, criticized Jobs, saying the Apple executive called the group last week and asked it not to picket, but was unwilling to sit down for a meeting to discuss the issues.

But Jobs said that Apple takes its environmental responsibilities seriously and added that the company is leading the industry on environmental issues. He also expressed frustration at Apple being singled out for criticism over its peers, calling it "bullshit."

Jobs said that he takes issue with the notion put forth by environmental activists that product recycling should be free to consumers.

"We think $30 is a reasonable price to charge," he said, pointing out that Dell charges about $20 to recycle a complete PC system and Hewlett-Packard charges about $40. However, as Jobs was speaking, both HP and Dell sweetened their offers as part of Earth Day campaigns, cutting at least temporarily the cost of sending gear back to the companies.

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Activists, who launched a campaign against Apple in January, held up signs reading "It's Earth Day, not trash the earth day," and "Steve, don't be a bad apple." One man showed up dressed as an iPod inscribed with the words: "My trendy toy turned toxic trash today."

In particular, protesters focused on the fact that Apple's iPod comes with a battery that cannot be replaced easily by consumers and the fact Apple charges $100 for a new battery--a significant percentage of the cost of the iPod itself. "Most consumers are just going to throw it away and get a new one," Davis said.

Jobs took issue with that, pointing out that consumers often throw batteries into the trash. He also said that tens of thousands of iPod customers have replaced their batteries through Apple and that Apple properly disposes of the depleted batteries. He went on to note that while the iPod has a small amount of lead, much more of the harmful compound is in cathode-ray tube monitors, which Apple has abandoned for all but its eMac computers.

As to the lack of women in senior positions, Jobs said there are many women in different roles at the company, but said he understands the company has a dearth of female executives.

"It is a deficiency we have," he said. "We recognize it and we are trying to solve it."

The board issue has come up repeatedly, as all seven of Apple's directors are men. Jobs said the company is having a tough time recruiting board members generally because new regulations make the job "onerous."

During the formal business part of the meeting, which lasted less than 15 minutes, Apple shareholders approved the company's current slate of directors for another year, approved expansions of the stock option and employee stock purchase program and also approved a new cash bonus program, which Apple had said was necessary despite the fact that four top executives had received stock-based compensation totaling more than $25 million in the past year.

Shareholders voted down a proposal from a metal workers' union to focus incentive pay on restricted stock grants based on specific performance characteristics. Apple had opposed the idea.

There were also the usual questions about which new products were on the way (no comment), whether Apple would offer a dividend (no) and a bevy of suggestions as to ways the company could better market the Mac against Windows-based computers. Shareholders, many of them longtime Mac users, packed Apple's Town Hall conference center, as another two dozen stockholders and reporters were housed in an overflow room.

Jobs was also asked about his health, particularly as he is seen as the primary architect of the company's recent success. Jobs took time off last year to have surgery for pancreatic cancer, but has since returned to the CEO job full time.

"I'm vertical," he quipped, adding that he did not want to give a full update on his health because then he would be expected to do so on a regular basis. "I feel just fine. I'm doing great."

23 comments

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How many women presidents has the US had till now? *NT*
*NT*
Posted by S R (85 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Batteries...
"In particular, protesters focused on the fact that Apple's iPod
comes with a battery that cannot be replaced easily by
consumers and the fact Apple charges $100 for a new battery--
a significant percentage of the cost of the iPod itself. 'Most
consumers are just going to throw it away and get a new one,'
Davis said."

Hey, how about they just make the iPod run on double-A's. You
want billions of batteries thrown away a year, that'll do it.

I can't believe they're getting picketed for a sliver of a
rechargable battery problem.

I guess the environmental branch of the current government
headed by former timber and mining lobbyists isn't enough of a
problem to focus on. They need to pick on a pretty green
company for its sector. At 2.5% marketshare worldwide at that.
Posted by (30 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Apple's market share
The context you were referring to... (the size of Apple) has nothing to do with its market share as that only determines its quarterly sales revenue in comparison to the competition. It has absolutely no bearing on the install base of the company. Apple's install base is roughly 8-10% of the worldwide computer industry.

Regardless... you are even wrong about their market share... which was recently bumped up to 3.9%
Posted by (1 comment )
Link Flag
Unemployable Twits
I love activists, they are basically unemployable twits but
unemployed by choice so not competing for jobs. More for the
rest of us.
Posted by (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Could someone please explain
what these groups' complaints are? I have yet to read one that
amounts to more than "Apple is a big conglomerate who hates
the environment." I'd be interested in hearing what exactly they
think Apple is doing that is so anti-environment...
Posted by bbatsell (57 comments )
Reply Link Flag
www.badapple.biz
Go to www.badapple.biz for an answer to your question.
Posted by pcmeissner (1 comment )
Link Flag
toss your iPod in the trash!
>>...Apple charges $100 for a new battery--a significant percentage of the cost of the iPod itself. "Most consumers are just going to throw it away and get a new one," Davis said.<<

Right. People are just going to toss their $200-500 iPod because of a $100 battery? That's a ridiculous statement from the protestors and just shows how weak their position is.
Posted by NickEP (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Try $39 at iPod911 for a new iPod Battery kit
I seriously doubt that anyone is just going to toss there $300
iPod in the trash because there battery doesn't work. Besides
you can go to <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.ipod911.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.ipod911.com/</a> and get a battery and
toolkit and replace the battery yourself for $39. That $100
battery replacement story is old news and is not true anymore.
Would you toss your laptop in the trash if your battery died?
Let's use some common sense people.
Posted by jhorvatic (18 comments )
Link Flag
Apple 180
Irony that Apple started with the support of the most green folks on the planet- graphic designers! And now Apple has dissed them with not only a poor recycling policy, but packaging that isn't recylable (many states do not recycle stryfoam), and an operating system that isn't friendly to designers (horrible font implimentations, maintenance, update after update. Even Apple's licensing and "software" coupons leave much confusion and waste.
I think Jobs is enigmatic but not pragmatic. Regime change is due. I'd step down (like Gates) and run Pixar instead. Still ahve board control, but allow some fresher, friendlier persona onboard. Apple lost track to profit, now that all the cool folks are shareholders...
Posted by Below Meigh (249 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What the heck are you talking about?
Graphic designers are green folks? How the heck do you make that kind of connection? Please show me the study that shows that graphic designers are more environmentally conscious. Maybe you are confusing them with gardeners perhaps?

Doesn't EVERY computer come with stryfoam packaging? Would you rather them buy a Dell and be offended by thier packaging instead of Apple's?

Is Adobe and Macromedia more friendly to designers with their frequent updates of Acrobat, Photoshop, Deramweaver, etc?

enigmatic means puzzling. I've herd genius, hot tempered, and charismatic, but never heard anyone describe Jobs as puzzling before. You may be the first.

Pragmatic means practical. What has Jobs done that's not practical? Isn't he being critized because you believe him to be more practical than enviromentally concious?

I don't make it a point of criticizing people's comment. But nothing you said made sense.
Posted by nmcphers (261 comments )
Link Flag
wanna clear that up?
neil is right - you have a lot of explaining to do. you exagerated and assumed and lied all the way through that post. care to explain yourself before we all dismiss you as an ill-informed, jelous attention ****?
Posted by Dibbs (158 comments )
Link Flag
Apple should be commended, not criticized.
I consider myself to be an environmental realist.

Batteries are bad, and need to be recycled in an eco-friendly manner. I believe Apple is offering that service, along with other tech mfgs. If you want to throw it away, then just pull the battery out and drop it off at a NiCad battery recycling facility near your house.

Packaging waste is the other big issue, and the need to develop more eco-friendly packaging is important. Apple's Shuffle packaging, for example, is one of the smarter approaches to reducing landfill waste. The package is considerably smaller than equivalent MP3 players, thus less waste. The hang tab is also the security closure, one less piece of plastic or cardboard to throw away. They don't have a lot of extra crap in the box either that you don't need or use (I don't need another recharger brick). The carton is made of recycled waste paper, and what little plastic they do have in the carton is recyclable PETE (1). Same stuff your milk bottles are made of.

Bravo Steve.
Posted by tayl0044 (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The only reason Apple is being targeted
... is because it gets so much media attention when it releases
new products so that's why there were protesters picketing.
Would you ever see any outside a dell product show? Think
about it no one cares if they release a new dell dimension, but
when Apple does something ears and eyes are wide open.
Apples packaging is functional and beautiful, as for their
products they last longer than pc's in general and use less
plastic than other manufacturers. Their most popular CPU's are
also smaller compared to their pc counterparts so they use less
materials. The mac mini encourages you to reuse your old
display. The iPod uses a rechargable battery not disposable
ones. They should be picketing the US government to have
European energy standards and encourage alternative energy
resources. I wonder what cars they drive, and how much
embodied energy the materials in their houses have, they
probably fly across the US more than once a year too. You can't
just look at one aspect of being environmentally friendly as this
isn't sustainable, perhaps they should look at themselves first.
"********" indeed!
Posted by Filip Remplakowski (91 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Edible, biodegradable computers
That' s the answer.
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
Reply Link Flag
no..=/
AHH! THERE'S ANTS IN MY COMPUTER!
Posted by cutekangaroo (29 comments )
Link Flag
Why trash iPod?
If you are smart, you'd keep it, even if the battery is dead. It's
basically a portable backup drive. So go ahead and buy yourself
a new ipod and put the old ones to good use. Or give it to
someone who doesnt have a backup drive.
Posted by cutekangaroo (29 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Who's responsible here?
I don't understand... blame Steve Jobs (apple) because the consumer doesn't care about the environment. The whiners want "Apple" to offer a higher price for buying back old equipment so "people" will do it. The whiners want "Apple" to re-design the iPod so the "people" will replace the battery instead of throwing away the entire device. WHINERS!!
Posted by wildweaselmi (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Fire Molly Wood
Fire Molly Wood
Posted by montgomeryburns (109 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The camel is in the tent.
Couldn't tell you for sure, but I have a strong suspicion that at some point Jobs &#38; Co. met with these environmental whackos to figure out some kind of "socially conscious" program or practices. This has given them the license to conduct these protests, because there's NO limit to the "environmentally responsible" measures folks like this would force a company to impose on itself. In simpler terms, Apple brought this on itself. There's a wide range of positions between being an active, careless polluter and kowtowing to the whims of fanatics of this ilk. Responsibility is one thing. Letting these twits come even *close* to dictating company policies and practices is quite another.
Posted by DarkHawke (999 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Steve Jobs has Balls
Gotta hand it to Jobs for telling it like it is. I think Billy's virgin
ears are bleeding.
Posted by hatandglasses13 (68 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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