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Enviro agency may sue Apple following Greenpeace iPhone report

post #1 of 64
Thread Starter 
A potential lawsuit from the Center for Environmental Health would accuse Apple of violating pollution laws by allowing its first cellphone to ship with toxic chemcials inside.

The announcement came just hours after Greenpeace published the results of a scientific test of the iPhone. Greenpeace discovered that many of the components in the device contained small but significant traces of hazardous chemicals -- even as part of the earbuds.

"Brominated compounds [were found] in half the samples, including in the phone's antenna, in which they made up 10 percent of the total weight of the flexible circuit board," the activist group said. "A mixture of toxic phthalates was found to make up 1.5 percent of the polyvinyl plastic (PVC) coating of the headphone cables."

These materials are dangerous enough to be labeled as "toxic to reproduction" in Europe and are already banned in all childcare goods for the continent, the organization said. Their place in a cellphone was not explicitly illegal but placed Apple behind other cellphone designers who were already producing phones without either brominated flame retardants (BFRs) or PVC plastic. Motorola, Nokia, and Sony-Ericsson were described as ahead of Apple in eliminating most or all of the substances from their production lines.

But while the practice is only frowned upon in Europe, Apple could not claim such protection for the iPhone in its home of California, claimed the Center for Environmental Health. The CEH alleged that the American state's Proposition 65 law barred any anti-reproductive or cancer-inducing plasticizer chemicals, like PVC, from shipping inside a product without a "clear and reasonable" label. The iPhone has lacked any such label since its launch in June, the group said.

And while the Center had so far only submitted a complaint, legal action was impending as a "citizen enforcement" measure if Apple did not voluntarily address the concerns, according to the report. To avoid a lawsuit, the Cupertino-based company would have to sign a binding agreement that would add a suitable label to new iPhones, recall every unit sold in California, and pay a financial penalty for the offense.

No matter the exact laws, both the CEH and Greenpeace shared the opinion that the iPhone was not living up to the spirit of Apple chief Steve Jobs' new environmental policy, which pledged to scrub BFRs, PVCs, and other toxic materials from Apple products by the end of 2008.

"There is no reason to have these potentially hazardous chemicals in iPhones," said CEH director Michael Green. "We expect Apple to reformulate their products to make them safer from cradle to grave, so they don’t pose a threat to consumers, workers or the environment."

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post #2 of 64
Hopefully this shames Apple into catching up with Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Motorola...
post #3 of 64
Another smear job from headline chasing holier-than-thou Greenpeace.
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post #4 of 64
Oh dear god....


I freely admit, I'm as liberally treehugging as they come, but c'mon....the antenna...10% of it by weight is bromide....that's what a couple nanograms?


PVC is hazardous?? Jesus tapdancing Christ, that means like half my wardrobe is toxic (yes kids, I wear PVC/Latex). C'mon, don't we have more important things to deal with? Gas prices, CO2 emissions, a horrible war, the possibility of Skeletor becoming president (sorry, I love ya Hilary, but I really don't blame Bill).


*sues Greenpeace for giving us flaming liberals a bad name*
post #5 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by skottichan View Post

Oh dear god....


I freely admit, I'm as liberally treehugging as they come, but c'mon....the antenna...10% of it by weight is bromide....that's what a couple nanograms?


PVC is hazardous?? Jesus tapdancing Christ, that means like half my wardrobe is toxic (yes kids, I wear PVC/Latex). C'mon, don't we have more important things to deal with? Gas prices, CO2 emissions, a horrible war, the possibility of Skeletor becoming president (sorry, I love ya Hilary, but I really don't blame Bill).


*sues Greenpeace for giving us flaming liberals a bad name*

Liberal activists and Democrats these days can be categorized as two different species. All these non-profits, Greenpeace, MediaMatters buffoons all failed the burger-flipping test.

I agree with you. Everyone wants a piece of the pie and there are a bunch of them that the only way they can do it is slime their way into it.
post #6 of 64
Using Apple to draw press attention to an issue is a terrible, terrible, unforgiveable crime... but I have to say, if these toxins ARE avoidable (and they DO add up when many units are sold), then maybe... just maybe... it's worth it to improve the situation
post #7 of 64
It's good to see that, as a conservative, I'm not the only one who thinks this is ridiculous.
post #8 of 64
OH, so...
amazing logic.

"Well, as you can see, when the iPhone is taken apart and then separated by weight and poison content, it can be potentially dangerous in some samples."


and his name is Mike Green?
Are you kidding?

UCH!
post #9 of 64
Overzealous... yeah, probably. Reactionary, maybe. But, if you are selling yourself as a "Greener Apple", and yet lagging behind your competitors in cleaning up your product, you open yourself to scrutiny.

Further, when you have more than 130 million pounds of cell phone equipment being discarded annually, concern about toxic content may be something other than ridiculous.
post #10 of 64
Righto! Nothing but a lame publicity stunt. Did you notice in the YouTube clip that Motorola and Sony Ericcson elimintaed "most" hazordous chemicals? Nice wording there eh? It seems as if they are no better.

Yea, as stated above, guess no one should eat their iPhone. (Does that mean I can eat a Nokia phone and be ok?)
post #11 of 64
mmm ... I wonder if those Green Peace ships belch out some pollutants too ..?
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post #12 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by retroneo View Post

Hopefully this shames Apple into catching up with Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Motorola...

Oh give me a break!
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post #13 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by JustBrady View Post


Yea, as stated above, guess no one should eat their iPhone. (Does that mean I can eat a Nokia phone and be ok?)

Good one

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post #14 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by JustBrady View Post

Righto! Nothing but a lame publicity stunt. Did you notice in the YouTube clip that Motorola and Sony Ericcson elimintaed "most" hazordous chemicals? Nice wording there eh? It seems as if they are no better.

Well, not entirely true:
SONY ERICSSON (SE) has now set a timeline of 1st January 2008 for eliminating phthalates, beryllium and some uses of antimony compounds.

All SE products are PVC free except for cables in a few early models of chargers and accessories, and these are being phased out.

The SE List of Banned and Restricted Substances sets a deadline of 1st January 2008 for the phase out of two remaining uses of BFR, otherwise all products are BFR-free.


http://pcworld.about.com/gi/dynamic/...lectronics.pdf

If you don't give a hoot about this issue, fine. But at least let the criticism be informed. Nokia is doing slightly better, Dell about the same. I believe the point is that these companies have a plan in place and goals bound to time lines with specific objectives stated. To my knowledge, Apple does not. Perhaps you see no need for them to do so. However, many would disagree, and are exerting pressure designed to encourage Apple in that direction. I love Apple products, have used them for years, but with the tonnage of waste this industry produces annually, I'd have no problem with Apple coming up with an environmental plan as forward thinking as their commercial products.
post #15 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff K-C View Post

To my knowledge, Apple does not.


Your ignorance shouldn't be our problem.

Frakking linked off the main damn page of Apple.com.

Quote:
"Apple plans to completely eliminate the use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), brominated flame retardants (BFRs), and arsenic in its products by the end of 2008."

Do I need to wipe you ass in the toilet too, or are you capable of pulling paper off the roll? Because your displayed lack of ability to do the most rudimentary basic research is appallingly pathetic.


And OBTW: It's still LEGAL to put phthalates in BABY BOTTLES and TEETHING RINGS in the US and state of California! The governator signed a law last night that finally addresses phthalates for products made for YOUNG CHILDREN, and manufactured in 2009. I don't think internal components are liable to be eaten or used as a teething ring by young children. Not to mention that is they aren't even illegal for those uses WTF is the big deal that they are inside a phone?
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post #16 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by retroneo View Post

Hopefully this shames Apple into catching up with Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Motorola...

Without knowing what the above phone companies do have in their products, please explain your statement.

The company bringing this suit are jam packed with charlatans, using the same techniques as Class Action Suit lawyers to rip off successful companies.

This is nothing more than a scam and has ZERO to do about the public good.
post #17 of 64
Yes it is true that the Greenpeace vid seems just slightly overstating the actual danger to consumers. But in all fairness, knowing Apple as one of the most image-concerned companies in IT, this criticism is well placed and probably will be taken into account. Yet there are far worse environmental issues than small toxic residues in the iPhone.

Just a quick point about the scale of this issue: are you recycling your paper, glass and plastic? I know I am not as well I could be doing.
post #18 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiro View Post

Your ignorance shouldn't be our problem.

Frakking linked off the main damn page of Apple.com.

Do I need to wipe you ass in the toilet too, or are you capable of pulling paper off the roll? Because your displayed lack of ability to do the most rudimentary basic research is appallingly pathetic.

Thanks. Its always good practice to reply to somebody so void of any sense of decency or decorum, so I appreciate the opportunity.

I am aware of the information on Apple's site. However, I also know that "although Apple commits to halogen-free printed circuit boards, there is no mention of eliminating all BFRs, and no timeline for complete phase out." Further, there are "no PVC-free or BFR-free product systems. Apple lists only some PVC-free peripherals on its website." This differs significantly from the environmental plans of other companies mentioned previously, meaning they're behind the curve. Of course, if you'd read the link in the post you were responding to, you'd already know that. But hey, thanks for the response, and I wish you luck with whatever it is you seem to have up your ass.
post #19 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff K-C View Post

If you don't give a hoot about this issue, fine. But at least let the criticism be informed. <snip> I believe the point is that these companies have a plan in place and goals bound to time lines with specific objectives stated. To my knowledge, Apple does not. Perhaps you see no need for them to do so.

I'd like to see it made clear how toxic iPhones are relative to Nokia, Sony-Ericcson today.

I don't like criticisms based on the lack of a promises plans. However, a total lack of plan would be important... are we sure Apple doesn't have one?

Compare Apple's to Apples. Can you inform us as to the
1) current state of the iPhone vs the current state of competitors??
2) current publicised plan of Apple vs current publicised plan of competitors??
3) 2008 iPhone vs 2008 competitors

I just think that
4) current state of the iPhone vs current publicised plan of competitors is wrong.

Alternatively, a year or so back Apple's computers were criticised on #4. When more information was available, how did they rate on 1, 2, & 3?? (Serious question... I don't know the answer).
post #20 of 64
Why does Greenpeace ONLY focus on Apple products?

TONS of tech products are much, much, much worse.

Or what about ever plastic grocery bag we throw away? Or the complete waste of packaging on most products, for instance, memory cards. Get real. The problem has nothing to do with Apple, and there are much greater problems to be tackled.
post #21 of 64
Good grief I guess this would explain why EDGE is so slow...hey can we get our other $100 bucks back now?? .....
post #22 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by retroneo View Post

Hopefully this shames Apple into catching up with Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Motorola...

Catch up how? by making disposable phones?
post #23 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by GregAlexander View Post


Can you inform us as to the current state of the iPhone vs the competitors??

No, not beyond the link I provided before. I'd be the first to admit that the information there is from Greenpeace, and that they certainly have an agenda. However, they seem to have done a decent job of analyzing the environmental plans of many of the industry producers with specific criteria used to judge their environmental policies. I'd welcome similar reports from other sources.

They are looking at practices of companies, and do not provide an analysis of iPhone vs. competitors content. Also, the information in the link is from March, and I am not aware of what may have changed at this point. If somebody else has more current or complete information, great. I'm certainly no expert, and as I said before, my hope is that Apple significantly ups the ante and leads on this front as well. My post was a response to the contention that Greenpeace's statements were "Nothing but a lame publicity stunt. Did you notice in the YouTube clip that Motorola and Sony Ericcson elimintaed "most" hazordous chemicals? Nice wording there eh? It seems as if they are no better."

Edit: I found a Sept '07 version of the report sited above, and Apple went from a score of 2.7 to 5.3 out of 10. Possibly this kind of pressure bears fruit.
http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/conten...onics-ap-5.pdf
post #24 of 64
From Greenpeace's website.
" Motorola and Sony Ericsson have already products on the market with BFR free components."

This does not state that Motorola and Sony Erricsson's ENTIRE product line is free from these chemicals. They likely still sell more phones with toxic chemicals in a week than Apple has in the market total.

10% of an antenna and 1.5 % of the earbuds? Seriously?!!! Did you see the condition of the "Scientist"'s "lab?" he probably could easily pick any of that tiny percentage up from the air.

So How credible is it that Greenpeace has their own Lab? Sorry, has to be independant.
post #25 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by skottichan View Post

*sues Greenpeace for giving us flaming liberals a bad name*

As if they needed any help

But I love my flaming liberals, otherwise, what's a right wing nut job to do???!!!


Maybe Al, the environmentalist, should spend less time, in my opinion, making propaganda movies, fictional books, and blatant holier than thou, do as I say, not as I do actions and pay more attention as a member of the Board of Directors at Apple to add his insightful environmental knowledge on such matters as to prevent this in the first place.


http://britainandamerica.typepad.com...h-judge-f.html

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post #26 of 64
Greenpeace are flaming idiots. One-point-five percent!?

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post #27 of 64
I would like iPhone to be 100% organic. Actually, I would like everything to be organic....

So, in case there is an earthquake and I run out of food, I can just eat my iPhone...and then my TV, and finally my car.
post #28 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kasper View Post

No matter the exact laws, both the CEH and Greenpeace shared the opinion that the iPhone was not living up to the spirit of Apple chief Steve Jobs' new environmental policy, which pledged to scrub BFRs, PVCs, and other toxic materials from Apple products by the end of 2008.

Does the spirit of the pledge mean get rid of them right away or what? It's rarely realistic to expect an immediate change. The end of 2008 is a little over 14 months away. If iPhone II is released in June without these chemicals, then I'd day they did a fair job in meeting their stated goal. To me, not living up to the spirit would be taking care of all of it on Dec 31, 2008, rather than gradually phase in improvements as they are ready.

I think the problem is that Apple is high profile and attention-getting, and the fact that Apple does seem to overhype its environmental sensitivity by a lot when they aren't necessarily as crispy clean as they try to imagine themselves.
post #29 of 64
Won't Someone Think Of The Children?
post #30 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by crees! View Post

Liberal activists and Democrats these days can be categorized as two different species. All these non-profits, Greenpeace, MediaMatters buffoons all failed the burger-flipping test.

I agree with you. Everyone wants a piece of the pie and there are a bunch of them that the only way they can do it is slime their way into it.

Except for one thing. If this is true, there is no excuse for it. All of these materials have more than acceptable substitutes that cost the manufacturer no more than the former materials, or just a bit more. Some actually cost less.

I'm surprised that Apple wasn't more careful about making certain that the iPhone didn't have these problems.

Next, it will be the iTouch that's examined, as that one has many of the same components.

Are you saying that Apple should be allowed to slide?
post #31 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiro View Post

Your ignorance shouldn't be our problem.

Frakking linked off the main damn page of Apple.com.



Do I need to wipe you ass in the toilet too, or are you capable of pulling paper off the roll? Because your displayed lack of ability to do the most rudimentary basic research is appallingly pathetic.

Hiro, that's still a year late.

Quote:
And OBTW: It's still LEGAL to put phthalates in BABY BOTTLES and TEETHING RINGS in the US and state of California! The governator signed a law last night that finally addresses phthalates for products made for YOUNG CHILDREN, and manufactured in 2009. I don't think internal components are liable to be eaten or used as a teething ring by young children. Not to mention that is they aren't even illegal for those uses WTF is the big deal that they are inside a phone?

This is a hot issue for us Apple users, but it is partly Apple's fault that Greenpeace is after them. They've made statements over the years about being "green", but haven't really done as much as they could have for being so forward on the issue.

And, by the way, just because the law says that companies have some time to elininate these components doesn't mean that companies must wait until that comes into effect. They can act sooner, out of public interest. It's also good publicity.

I would think that after Job's statements earlier this year, they would have been more careful, at least for the sake of not having this kind of publicity. It wasn't smart to go ahead without making sure that this product met all applicable laws and regulations that either are in effect, ot that will shortly be in effect.

Remember that it will cost Apple more to have the product redesigned with these slightly different components than if they had been used in the first place.

This was a slip-up of the first order. But, remember where these are being made. Because of that (unless Apple approved of using these materials) more vigilance was required.
post #32 of 64
Why aren't companies that still manufacture CRT monitors held under the same accountability?
post #33 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by icfireball View Post

Why does Greenpeace ONLY focus on Apple products?

They don't. But Apple, along with a number of other large companies was working with Greenpeace a few years ago, then broke off relations, no one knows why, though I'm assuming that Greenpeace was pushing for quicker results.

After that, Apple kept making statements about how green they were, and how far ahead of the curve.

This reminds me of the presidential race here in the 1980's. I think it might have been 1984. The leading Democratic candidate, Gary Hart, had marital fidelity problems. When asked about it at a press conference, he challenged the press to catch him.

Well, you know that the press isn't going to let that pass, and so they did. That ended his Presidential ambitions.

Apple is in the same situation with Greenpeace, and they aren't letting Apple off the hook, though earlier this year they sort of reconciled.
post #34 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Does the spirit of the pledge mean get rid of them right away or what? It's rarely realistic to expect an immediate change. The end of 2008 is a little over 14 months away. If iPhone II is released in June without these chemicals, then I'd day they did a fair job in meeting their stated goal. To me, not living up to the spirit would be taking care of all of it on Dec 31, 2008, rather than gradually phase in improvements as they are ready.

I think the problem is that Apple is high profile and attention-getting, and the fact that Apple does seem to overhype its environmental sensitivity by a lot when they aren't necessarily as crispy clean as they try to imagine themselves.

As a former manufacturer of electronics, let me tell ypu how I see it.

If a product has been in production when new rules are laid down, but not yet in effect, then you are allowed to continue producing that product for its normal lifetime, as long as it doesn't contain truly egregous materials.

But, if you come out with new products between the time the regs are announced and they go into effect, you are fools not to incorporate the proper materials from the get go.

When you are producing a product that will be sold worldwide, you have to make sure that you meet, or exceed EVERY possible reg that is in effect, or is going to be in effect, as well as ones that are not yet approved, but will be, and that's for every jurisdiction your product will be sold into.

No doubt, this can be a burden, but that's no excuse for not doing it. Every manufacturer has to meet the same regs, so it's fair. If a company doesn't want to meet some regs, they don't have to sell into that market.

Apple is too visable to get away with it, though other companies have their products tested as well.
post #35 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

Why aren't companies that still manufacture CRT monitors held under the same accountability?

There are exceptions for essential products that can't be produced without using certain materials.

But, the laws there are being tightened as well.

The same is true of compact fluorescent bulbs, and other products, such as batteries. Remember mercury cells? Not legal, except for certain restricted uses. Nickel-cadmium? Can't be made any other way, though I won't be surprised if, in a few years, once other battery types have mostly eliminated them, that it won't be legal to make products that can use them, and later, ban the use of Ni-cads altogether.
post #36 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff K-C View Post

I found a Sept '07 version of the report sited above, and Apple went from a score of 2.7 to 5.3 out of 10. Possibly this kind of pressure bears fruit.
http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/conten...onics-ap-5.pdf

To compare against Nokia: http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/conten...kia-rank-2.pdf

To me, my main concern is comparing like -to- like. I didn't like comparing Apple's current iPhone to Nokia's 2008 plans.

Comparing these 2 pdfs is much more useful. And Apple should step up
post #37 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Hiro, that's still a year late.



This is a hot issue for us Apple users, but it is partly Apple's fault that Greenpeace is after them. They've made statements over the years about being "green", but haven't really done as much as they could have for being so forward on the issue.

And, by the way, just because the law says that companies have some time to elininate these components doesn't mean that companies must wait until that comes into effect. They can act sooner, out of public interest. It's also good publicity.

I would think that after Job's statements earlier this year, they would have been more careful, at least for the sake of not having this kind of publicity. It wasn't smart to go ahead without making sure that this product met all applicable laws and regulations that either are in effect, ot that will shortly be in effect.

Remember that it will cost Apple more to have the product redesigned with these slightly different components than if they had been used in the first place.

This was a slip-up of the first order. But, remember where these are being made. Because of that (unless Apple approved of using these materials) more vigilance was required.

No this isn't a slip up of the first order. Apple is under threat of being sued, in California by a California organization, for having chemicals inside the phone which are still legal to put in baby chew toys.

Would it be good PR for Apple to substitute them, yes. I also don't buy the measurements reported though. Those were "carefully" chosen misleading statements about the actual amounts of materials in question. The prop 65 warning is also a poorly reported issue. It does not require labeling of PVC products unless they have lead which will rub off on fingers at or above a certain rate. Not all PVC has that issue, nor does prop 65 refer to any internal components, only external parts which would come into daily contact with a persons skin.

Prop 65 analysis site

Maybe if some of these organizations actually read what they use as justification they might actually be able to be taken seriously. But it's all about PR and they need to strike while the product is hot.
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post #38 of 64
Brominated Flame Retardants have been included for safety reasons: they make the internal plastic components more resistant to heat and less likely to burn.

Are BFRs really that hazardous to our health?

Is there an alternative?
post #39 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr O View Post

Brominated Flame Retardants have been included for safety reasons: they make the internal plastic components more resistant to heat and less likely to burn.

Are BFRs really that hazardous to our health?

Is there an alternative?

They are a known carcinogen. They were eliminated as fire retardents for childrens clothing years ago.
post #40 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by skottichan View Post

PVC is hazardous?? Jesus tapdancing Christ, that means like half my wardrobe is toxic (yes kids, I wear PVC/Latex).

OK, so it's not a coffin, though wearing things made from any artificial material feels like a form-fit coffin to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crees! View Post

Liberal activists and Democrats these days can be categorized as two different species. All these non-profits, Greenpeace, MediaMatters buffoons all failed the burger-flipping test.

I agree with you. Everyone wants a piece of the pie and there are a bunch of them that the only way they can do it is slime their way into it.

Outlandish activism is hardly an affliction that only affects one party. But I don't think it's an argument that should be carried out here.
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