Steve Jobs unveils changes to Apple's environmental policy

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
In an open letter to customers and shareholders, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs on Wednesday acknowledged that the company has not been forthright on its environmental policy and then finally proceeded to outline a timetable for the removal of toxic chemicals from the company's products.



"Apple has been criticized by some environmental organizations for not being a leader in removing toxic chemicals from its new products, and for not aggressively or properly recycling its old products," said Jobs. "Upon investigating Apple?s current practices and progress towards these goals, I was surprised to learn that in many cases Apple is ahead of, or will soon be ahead of, most of its competitors in these areas."



Regardless of the work that still needs doing, the Apple co-founder said it "is certainly clear" that Apple's policy of not trumpeting its future plans has left customers, shareholders, employees and the industry in the dark about its desires and plans to become greener.



"Our stakeholders deserve and expect more from us, and they?re right to do so," he wrote. "They want us to be a leader in this area, just as we are in the other areas of our business. So today we?re changing our policy."



As part of its policy, Apple plans to completely eliminate the use of arsenic in its displays by the end of 2008 and will eventually eliminate the use of mercury by transitioning all of its displays to LED backlighting when technically and economically feasible.



"Fortunately, all iPod displays already use LEDs for illumination, and therefore contain no mercury," wrote Jobs. "We plan to introduce our first Macs with LED backlight technology in 2007. Our ability to completely eliminate fluorescent lamps in all of our displays depends on how fast the LCD industry can transition to LED backlighting for larger displays."



By the end of 2008, Jobs said Apple also plans to completely eliminate the use of other toxic chemicals like polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a type of plastic primarily used in the construction industry but also found in computer parts and cables, and brominated flame retardants (BDRs), which reduce the risk of fire.



In a comparative jab at Apple rivals, Jobs noted that while HP plans to remove PVC from all their packaging in the near future, Apple made the same move 12 years ago. Similarly, he said, Dell last year began the process of phasing out large quantities of brominated flame retardants in large plastic enclosure parts. For its part, Apple?s plastic enclosure parts have been bromine-free since 2002.



"In one environmental group?s recent scorecard, Dell, HP and Lenovo all scored higher than Apple because of their plans (or "plans for releasing plans" in the case of HP)," quipped Jobs, referring to a report by environmental advocacy group Greenpeace. "In reality, Apple is ahead of all of these companies in eliminating toxic chemicals from its products."



In regards to recycling, Jobs noted in his letter that Apple started recycling in 1994 and today operates recycling programs in countries where more than 82 percent of all Macs and iPods are sold. By the end of this year, that figure will increase to 93 percent, he said.



While there is no industry standard way to measure of the effectiveness of a company?s recycling programs, Jobs seconded a method proposed by rival Dell, which is to assume a seven year product lifetime, and measure the percentage of the total weight a company recycles each year compared to the total weight of what it sold seven years earlier.



"This makes sense to us," said Jobs, "and has the added advantages of clarity and simplicity."



Apple weight recycled as a % of past sales



During the 2006 calendar year, Apple recycled 13 million pounds of e-waste, equal to 9.5 percent of the weight of all products Apple sold seven years earlier. Jobs said he expects that percentage to grow to 13 percent in 2007, and to 20 percent in 2008. By 2010, Apple's forecast calls for the recycling or 19 million pounds of e-waste per year, or nearly 30 percent of the product weight the firm sold seven years earlier.



In another note of comparison to Apple rivals who have benchmarked higher in environmental advocacy ratings, Jobs said the latest e-waste figures from HP and Dell are each around 10 percent per year, with neither company having disclosed plans to grow that percentage in the future. The Apple headman suggests that by 2010, Apple may be recycling significantly more than either Dell or HP as a percentage of past sales weight.



Jobs said that all of the e-waste Apple collects in North America is processed in the U.S., and nothing is shipped overseas for disposal. "We carefully review 'environmental fate' submissions from each vendor, so we know how raw materials are handled at the end of the recycling process," he wrote. "We hold our recycling vendors to the highest environmental standards in the industry. In addition to annual compliance audits, we also review the performance of their downstream vendors."



Jobs also called on system designers to "take responsibility" for their design and material choices in creating new products, and singled out the iMac as "a world-class example of material efficiency," given that it has shed 60 percent of its weight since its inception back in 1998.



Speaking on the subject of iPods, Jobs said Apple this summer will expand its free iPod take back program -- which offers customers a 10 percent discount on a new iPod when they bring their old iPod to one of the company's 150+ U.S.-based retail stores -- to all of its retail stores worldwide. The program extension will also include free shipping from anywhere in the U.S.



Going forward, the Apple chief executive promised to provide updates on the company's environmental efforts and accomplishments at least annually, most likely around Spring time.



"I hope you are as delighted as I was when I first learned how far along Apple actually is in removing toxic chemicals from its products and recycling its older products," Jobs said in closing. "We apologize for leaving you in the dark for this long."



Readers can view Steve's letter in its entirety at Apple.com or download it as PDF.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    That is the most wierdly worded opening paragraph you could do for this letter.



    The implication is that Apple lied (in a negative way) about their environmental policies.



    How about



    "In an open letter to customers and shareholders, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs on Wednesday acknowledged that the company has understated its environmental policy and clearly defined a timetable for the removal of remaining toxic chemicals from its products."





    Vinea
  • Reply 2 of 27
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,698member
    Kasper, did you miss the fact that Apple has, in this statement, formally announced that it will be using LED backlighting in some of its products this year?



    In other words - LED backlighting in new MacBook Pro is pretty much confirmed
  • Reply 3 of 27
    kasperkasper Posts: 941member, administrator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post


    Kasper, did you miss the fact that Apple has, in this statement, formally announced that it will be using LED backlighting in some of its products this year?



    In other words - LED backlighting in new MacBook Pro is pretty much confirmed



    http://www.appleinsider.com/article.php?id=2426



  • Reply 4 of 27
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,698member
    Quote:



    Oh indeed, but now we have confirmation directly from Apple. Nice to see that AI is maintaining its very high accuracy rate.
  • Reply 5 of 27
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Steve Jobs


    We plan to introduce our first Macs with LED backlight technology in 2007. Our ability to completely eliminate fluorescent lamps in all of our displays depends on how fast the LCD industry can transition to LED backlighting for larger displays.

    ...

    Apple plans to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of mercury by transitioning to LED backlighting for all displays when technically and economically feasible.



    MacBook Pros and MacBooks will probably get it first.
  • Reply 6 of 27
    jasenj1jasenj1 Posts: 909member
    "We plan to introduce our first Macs with LED backlight technology in 2007."



    Well, drat. Now I not only have to wait for Santa Rosa, but for LED backlighting, too? Oh, this is slated for the Pro line first? It'd be nice in a MacBook, but I'll take a simple Santa Rosa update, too. Is it Tuesday yet!?



    - Jasen.
  • Reply 7 of 27
    irelandireland Posts: 17,535member
    Here comes the doubters again.
  • Reply 8 of 27
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,422member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by vinea View Post


    That is the most wierdly worded opening paragraph you could do for this letter.



    The implication is that Apple lied (in a negative way) about their environmental policies.



    How about



    "In an open letter to customers and shareholders, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs on Wednesday acknowledged that the company has understated its environmental policy and clearly defined a timetable for the removal of remaining toxic chemicals from its products."





    Vinea



    Acutally, it is correct because Apple has never made any policy statement about being green and the levels of Toxic Chemicals in the products. Everyone assumed they were still using Toxic Chemicals so their statement about being forthright would be correct.



    Apple never beat their own drum on this matter, and people assumed that since Apple did not have a pulblic policy they were poluting the envirnoment.



    If you do a search of this topic in the past here on appleinsider you will see I made statements about greenpiece and others that their informations was wrong and they were just using Apple to get their message out. They claimed Apple was the worse in the industry and now you can see Apple is probably one of the better companies, or at least no worse than any company who has a public policy about being green.



    I guaranty that greenpeace and others never once attually tested any product to understand if in fact the produce contained what they claimed they did. The other thing is that recycling programs that companies like Dell's has nothing to do with being green it is about getting used computer out of the market place, they do not want to compete against their own used products.



    I doubt very much that Apples will see the high % since people tend to hand down thier old Macs and iPods verses through them away. The other thing is more and more cities are offering recycling programs for old electronic equipment since their is now money to be made recycling them.
  • Reply 9 of 27
    jamezogjamezog Posts: 163member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post


    MacBook Pros and MacBooks will probably get it first.



    I hope you're right - Steve's mentioning that "technical feasibility" is only possible for smaller screens at present may indeed be a hint that it won't be just the MBP that gets the LED update. Let's keep our fingers crossed. (I do sympathize with the gripes of the Mac Pro gang, though...)
  • Reply 10 of 27
    crentistcrentist Posts: 204member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jamezog View Post


    I hope you're right - Steve's mentioning that "technical feasibility" is only possible for smaller screens at present may indeed be a hint that it won't be just the MBP that gets the LED update. Let's keep our fingers crossed. (I do sympathize with the gripes of the Mac Pro gang, though...)



    Good eye. I got the same impression.
  • Reply 11 of 27
    tenobelltenobell Posts: 7,014member
    Quote:

    (I do sympathize with the gripes of the Mac Pro gang, though...)



    Seems LED backlight will be the technology that puts LCD over the top. Sony has just introduced a new LCD monitor with LED backlight. Sony says the color reproduction is better than CRT and the contrast is good enough to replace its high end CRT monitors.



    The new LCD is 23" won't be available until October and will cost $25,000. Where does that put the cost of a 30" Cinema Display with LED backlight?
  • Reply 12 of 27
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,698member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post


    Where does that put the cost of a 30" Cinema Display with LED backlight?



    Around about $
  • Reply 13 of 27
    rolorolo Posts: 686member
    Samsung has a new 24" display coming out soon that'll have LED backlighting. Anyone know what it'll cost? Is it possible to use in an iMac?



    I'm anxiously awaiting a new Santa Rosa MBP with LED backlighting. Sure hope it comes out soon. Santa Rosa arrives 1 week from today!
  • Reply 14 of 27
    tenobelltenobell Posts: 7,014member
    admittedly the Sony monitor has to work in a broadcast capacity. So it will have functionality that the Cinema Display won't. I'm not sure how much different that would make the price.
  • Reply 15 of 27
    roehlstationroehlstation Posts: 640member
    Headline is very misleading, and not necessarily correct. "Steve Jobs unveils changes to Apple's environmental policy" they did not CHANGE anything, they are simply making public their plans. The way the headline reads, it makes it sound as though Apple caved to Greenpeace's demands, Apple was simply protecting trade secrets by not making the policy public.
  • Reply 16 of 27
    jupiteronejupiterone Posts: 1,564member
    Quote:

    It is generally not Apple?s policy to trumpet our plans for the future; we tend to talk about the things we have just accomplished. Unfortunately this policy has left our customers, shareholders, employees and the industry in the dark about Apple?s desires and plans to become greener. Our stakeholders deserve and expect more from us, and they?re right to do so. They want us to be a leader in this area, just as we are in the other areas of our business. So today we?re changing our policy.



    Yes, it sounds like the only policy they've changed is their policy of not trumpeting their plans for the future.
  • Reply 17 of 27
    max_naylormax_naylor Posts: 194member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JupiterOne View Post


    Yes, it sounds like the only policy they've changed is their policy of not trumpeting their plans for the future.



    Alas, if only that were true. \
  • Reply 18 of 27
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by roehlstation View Post


    Headline is very misleading, and not necessarily correct. "Steve Jobs unveils changes to Apple's environmental policy" they did not CHANGE anything, they are simply making public their plans. The way the headline reads, it makes it sound as though Apple caved to Greenpeace's demands, Apple was simply protecting trade secrets by not making the policy public.



    Any takers on the bet that Greenpeace will say both that Apple caved AND that it isn't good enough?



    Vinea
  • Reply 19 of 27
    alanskyalansky Posts: 235member
    In an open letter to customers and shareholders, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs on Wednesday acknowledged that the company has not been forthright on its environmental policy



    I totally agree with others who have pointed out how utterly misleading this article's opening paragraph is! What's your problem, Apple Insider? This isn't the first time lately that I've noticed subtle (or not so subtle) digs at Apple in your articles.
  • Reply 20 of 27
    eckingecking Posts: 1,588member
    Cool.
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