Investors push Apple to meet or beat Dell enviro goals

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
An investment group plans to use Apple Inc.'s upcoming shareholder's meeting to press for greener products -- and is holding the company's arch-rival Dell as the benchmark.



Trillium Asset Management roused Apple shareholders to action on Thursday, calling on them to support a motion that would require that the Cupertino-based company outline a schedule for ridding its hardware products of toxic materials.



The investment firm rekindled accusations that Apple has stalled on its commitments to environmental progress and urged that it scrap brominated flame retardants (BFCs) and polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC), either of which can leak dangerous chemicals in the wrong circumstances.



Such substances can be especially volatile in developing nations, where attempts to cannibalize the better components of junked PCs frequently triggers their release into the environment. Continuing to use these materials without a "reasonable" timetable to eventually scrap them is both irresponsible and hypocritical, Trillian proclaimed.



"Consumers have grown to expect more from Apple, a leader in product design and innovation," Shelley Alpern, a VP at the firm, wrote in its call to investors. "Are we falling behind in the arena of greening our products?"



In what could be a considerable embarrassment for Apple, the shareholder coalition issued a definitive "yes" as its answer to the question of the Mac maker's sluggishness, and held up examples from rival companies. Current US market leader and ages-long nemesis Dell was treated as the gold standard for eco-friendly behavior: while Apple had not even published a schedule, Dell had already pledged to eliminate both BFRs and PVC plastic from its computers no later than 2009.



Indeed, prompting by AppleInsider has revealed that Trillium would like Apple to at least emulate its Texas opponent in any schedule that goes forward, if not exceed it.



"The timetable is a number one goal, and something on par with or hopefully better than Dell would be preferred," said a spokesperson for the firm. "But we'd also like to see [Apple] making a broader commitment to getting out of the use of persistent and bioaccumulative toxic chemicals."



Apple, in contrast, has been savaged for often promising a vague green strategy but failing to deliver on some of its most basic promises. In its plea to investors, Trillium highlighted several instances in which Apple had suffered public humiliation for its seeming inertia, including the notorious last-place Greenpeace ranking that has dogged the company for months.



Apple has even dragged its heels, the firm added, on environmental responsibility to the extent that multiple devices were banned from Europe due to continent-wide material safety laws.



In speaking to AppleInsider, a spokesperson for Trillium, which holds approximately $5.3 million in Apple shares, said the the group hadn't yet made contingency plans should voters shoot down its request for a cleanup schedule. The firm is instead devoting attention to the impending vote -- a fact evident from its trailing jab at Apple's top brass.



"One of the interesting aspects of this issue is that enviro-celebrity Al Gore is on the Board of Directors of Apple," said the spokesperson.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 65
    Investors, frankly, have more important things to worry about. It's sad but it's true. These guys should go put more money into getting hybrids on the road so we can stop polluting the AIR.



    I'd rather have everyone driving their hybrids listening to an iPod than driving their Hummers listening to a Green-Pod!
  • Reply 2 of 65
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jsavage View Post


    Investors, frankly, have more important things to worry about. It's sad but it's true. These guys should go put more money into getting hybrids on the road so we can stop polluting the AIR.



    I'd rather have everyone driving their hybrids listening to an iPod than driving their Hummers listening to a Green-Pod!



    Ah, but it's possible to do MORE than one good thing More hybrids = great. Millions of greener consumer electronics products = great too.
  • Reply 3 of 65
    I really wish people would research a little deeper into the green thing, do it because it is the right thing to do, not as some marketing strategy, yes, tell people you are doing it, but do not chase after artificial goals set forth by a computer company whose consumers will likely throw away more of its products in a year than Apple will even produce in 5 years. I know Greenpeace shook things up a bit, but look at the real numbers not the scale that Greenpeace has set forth based mostly on whether or not a company signed a pledge to them to cut back on hazardous materials. I am confident Apple is doing its share and will continue to do so even if it is not breaking down to the whims of Greenpeace.



    As far as hybrids go.... take a look at what it takes to produce those batteries that hybrids use. Take a look at the desolate wastelands left behind from mining Nickel to produce them, then ship that Nickel to Europe to be smelted, from there, shipped to Japan to be refined further before then being shipped again back to North America where they are placed in cars with a life expectancy of a few years before needing replacement. Then what happens to the old battery? They can be recycled, but it is very energy intensive currently and not available everywhere.
  • Reply 4 of 65
    kreshkresh Posts: 379member
    This is a pointless article without disclosing the size of the voting block this group represents.



    Until proven otherwise, I speculate that this group represents less than 1/10000 of a percent of all voting stock. Thus it is just more PR BS.



    Is anyone vetting this crap, or is AppleInsider just doing a mad scramble to put anything on this site that contains the word "Apple"?
  • Reply 5 of 65
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,335member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by kresh View Post


    This is a pointless article without disclosing the size of the voting block this group represents.



    Until proven otherwise, I speculate that this group represents less than 1/10000 of a percent of all voting stock. Thus it is just more PR BS.



    Is anyone vetting this crap, or is AppleInsider just doing a mad scramble to put anything on this site that contains the word "Apple"?



    Trilliun isn't a large voting block by itself, but with others, it could be. When I read their proposal, I might decide to vote for it myself.
  • Reply 6 of 65
    elrothelroth Posts: 1,201member
    Another supposed enviro group blowing smoke. They're just repeating Greenpeace's misleading charges. Why don't they look at the actual toxics in the computers instead of the "timetable" promised? Because when Greenpeace actually took apart an Apple laptop, they couldn't find anything wrong. But because Apple didn't do a PR event with them and didn't promise to support Greenpeace, they're criticized.



    As for the "multiple devices were banned from Europe due to continent-wide material safety laws," a big exaggeration. Apple took the old Airport Extreme off the European market when the European law took effect; the new Airport Extreme was released a few months later, and meets all safety laws. As far as I know, there were no other Apple products taken off the European market, certainly no computers or iPods.



    As an Apple shareholder, I am not supporting this resolution. I want Apple to be totally clean and environmentally conscious - they're doing this behind the scenes, not grabbing for media attention.
  • Reply 7 of 65
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,265member
    Whether you agree with their stance or not, at least they are going about trying to affect change in a much more productive and responsible way than Greenpeace. They have invested money in Apple, and as shareholders they have a right to give input into how the company should be run. Far more effective than staging protests as media gimmicks. And since their website states they are an investment company "dedicated solely to socially responsible investing" that must mean they think Apple is not all bad since they have in fact already invested in Apple. It doesn't appear that they are threatening to sell their Apple stock if the vote doesn't go their way. They just think Apple can do better. Nothing wrong with that....in this SUV driver's opinion.
  • Reply 8 of 65
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by elroth View Post


    As far as I know, there were no other Apple products taken off the European market, certainly no computers or iPods.



    As an Apple shareholder, I am not supporting this resolution. I want Apple to be totally clean and environmentally conscious - they're doing this behind the scenes, not grabbing for media attention.





    ....not sure about this, but wasn't the iSight also removed because of contaminants?



    Also, as for how much Apple should or shouldn't do, I firmly believe they should be worlds best practice when it comes to environmentallt sustainable design. Sustainable design is simply a constraint just as budget, functionality, ease of use and so on are. Apple rigorously pursues excellence in all areas except in the area of environmental considerations. Apple are brilliant designers and there is no reason why they could not excell in this area.



    They are the leaders so they must also lead by example.
  • Reply 9 of 65
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,575member
    The primary goal of the company is to provide a return for it's investors. When going green adds to the value of the company and it is recognized by consumers as a plus that they are willing to pay more for, and not go with a competitor instead based on price, then heck yeah, Apple should do it. Otherwise, it's just another "proposal" that apparently anyone can make who owns stock in a company. These proposals happen all of the time... you should see some of ones that come up sometime. Many of them are raised simply to make a point and often have nothing to do with the charter of the company.
  • Reply 10 of 65
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,335member
    Going green has generally proved to be good to the companies doing it.



    I don't know how many people here remember a few years ago, when board manufacturing companies here in the US balked at eliminating solvents from the cleaning process at the end of the manufacturing line.



    They had to go to water soluble methods instead. After all the fighting was finished, they found it to not only be both cleaner and environmentally better, and cheaper, but that it did a better job cleaning the boards than did the older volatile solvents.



    I'm all for doing the right thing in manufacturing. We all share the same world.
  • Reply 11 of 65
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    The primary goal of the company is to provide a return for it's investors. When going green adds to the value of the company and it is recognized by consumers as a plus that they are willing to pay more for, and not go with a competitor instead based on price, then heck yeah, Apple should do it. Otherwise, it's just another "proposal" that apparently anyone can make who owns stock in a company. These proposals happen all of the time... you should see some of ones that come up sometime. Many of them are raised simply to make a point and often have nothing to do with the charter of the company.







    SpamSandwich, with all due repect are you teleporting from last century?? (please excese me there not really having a go at you... )



    Don't you think that any company has an obligation to the context they operate in, which includes environment, society etc. As in, we don't generally accept companies exploiting children or allowing workers of operate in manifestly unsafe environments. So why should we alllow companies to exploit the environment in which we all share and live?



    I am a share holder (and I know Melgross is too), and I would prefer the company that I invest in to be a good corporate citizen.



    And why will it neccesarily reduce my return as an investor if Apple goes 'green'. There are many things that Apple could do, and is doing, that could actually increase my returns, whilst at that same time being 'green'. For instance if they reduce the amount of packaging then they are not only using less resources, they also save money. They are stating to do this already...just look at the way the used to package iPods and the way the do it now. Smaller packages also means ferwer shipping containers, less transport costs, more savings, more return for me.



    So sorry SS but I don't buy the argument you are putting forward. In any case Apple is capable of undertaking this... it is not rocket science.
  • Reply 12 of 65
    Here's another example of where a company doing the right thing actually saves money. There is an arguement that waste is actually a product that is produced. To produce something costs money. If you can reduce waste, which can't be monetized, then you improve your bottom line. And is that not an obligation of any publically listed company.
  • Reply 13 of 65
    jonnyboyjonnyboy Posts: 525member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by roehlstation View Post


    do it because it is the right thing to do, not as some marketing strategy



    in an ideal world this would be true, but (if it hasn't escaped your notice) our present economic system worships at the alter of the dollar, not any kind of morality. all this talk of the "green market" makes me cringe, but if i makes a positive contribution then so be it.
  • Reply 14 of 65
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    The primary goal of the company is to provide a return for it's investors.



    You just keep telling yourself that as your choking to death on CO2.



    Companies need to realize that the planet IS more important than their business.
  • Reply 15 of 65
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jonnyboy View Post


    in an ideal world this would be true, but (if it hasn't escaped your notice) our present economic system worships at the alter of the dollar, not any kind of morality. all this talk of the "green market" makes me cringe, but if i makes a positive contribution then so be it.



    I think you should re-read my two posts above yours. The two can be inextricably linked. The whole 'green' thing is not hippy shit. It is kind of funny that all those greenies ended up be right all along.



    In any case why should any company operate in my backyard with out bearing the cost for its use?





    This has nothing to do with utopian bullshit, it is simply a constraint that we simple cannot ignor.
  • Reply 16 of 65
    markmark Posts: 143member
    Apple shouldn't 'go green' because of pressure from Greenpeace or anyone else. It should do it because--aside from doing right by the planet--it would generate a tremendous response from customers. This is a potentially huge marketing advantage because people are willing to pay to be green. Think of things like hybrid cars or home retrofits or green power. Or carbon 'offsetting' (We don't even know if the concept is sound!)



    And from an environmental standpoint...



    We Mac fans often jump to defend Apple against what we think is unfair criticism. But if it's unfair to want Apple to be the best in the industry, then I must be an unfair person, because that's what I want too. It only seems natural for Apple to play this role. It didn't take this "Green My Apple" business to make me realize it. Why can't Apple do better than Dell? It's not an unfair question, and I'm glad this investment group is raising it.



    It's sad to see Apple go on about flat-panel displays saving energy and jet fuel when environmental policy could be a major feather in their cap from both a business and environmental perspective. Such a (wait for it...) waste.
  • Reply 17 of 65
    aegisdesignaegisdesign Posts: 2,914member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by orange whip View Post


    For instance if they reduce the amount of packaging then they are not only using less resources, they also save money. They are stating to do this already...just look at the way the used to package iPods and the way the do it now. Smaller packages also means ferwer shipping containers, less transport costs, more savings, more return for me.



    Yep. Apple seems to know what they're doing with packaging just now. The largest environmental cost in packaging is not what you make the packaging out of but the volume and weight of the boxes you've got to ship things around in. It's MORE environmentally friendly to ship in small, light weight plastic containers than the larger cardboard boxes you need to ensure a package arrives intact as they take up less space in the containers from China and get transported in less trucks when landed.



    Which makes me also wonder the impact of buying a multibox Dell instead of an iMac.
  • Reply 18 of 65
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by badNameErr View Post


    You just keep telling yourself that as your choking to death on CO2.



    Funny, yes. However, there is no mechanism by which a human being could choke due to the simple presence of CO2.



    You might suffocate if the O2 levels get too low to support respiration, sure. But CO2 is a natural byproduct of that respiration so by definition there must always be a higher concentration of CO2 inside the human body than there is in the surrounding atmosphere.



    Quote:

    Companies need to realize that the planet IS more important than their business.



    Companies need to realize that in order for them to STAY in business, the planet must remain viable to support human life. Ergo, the cost of maintaining human viability must be factored into the regular cost of doing business.
  • Reply 19 of 65
    jupiteronejupiterone Posts: 1,564member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aegisdesign View Post


    Yep. Apple seems to know what they're doing with packaging just now. The largest environmental cost in packaging is not what you make the packaging out of but the volume and weight of the boxes you've got to ship things around in. It's MORE environmentally friendly to ship in small, light weight plastic containers than the larger cardboard boxes you need to ensure a package arrives intact as they take up less space in the containers from China and get transported in less trucks when landed.



    Which makes me also wonder the impact of buying a multibox Dell instead of an iMac.



    And not only multibox. I bought my first laptop from Apple and was most impressed by the little packaging. But a couple of weeks ago a friend bought a Dell laptop. Now granted, his came shipped to him, but I was amazed at the packaging for this laptop. Not so much with the outer box that it came in (for shipping), but all the small pieces of cardboard and styrofoam that seemed to do nothing but hold individual cords, manuals, CDs in their place. Then the entire laptop was wrapped in what looked like a large plastic garbage bag. It was about 3 times the size of the laptop and tied off in a big knot.
  • Reply 20 of 65
    abster2coreabster2core Posts: 2,501member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    An investment group plans to use Apple Inc.'s upcoming shareholder's meeting to press for greener products -- and is holding the company's arch-rival Dell as the benchmark.



    Perhaps some should look at Apple's Environmental policies before leaping on the bonflre.



    http://www.apple.com/about/environment/



    In particular, click the "restricted substances program. I would suggest that Apple is well on its way and more that likely ahead of many others in the greening of our environment. Steve Jobs may be a lot of things, but I honest feel hypocracy is not intentionally in his demeanor.
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