From: Wall Street Journal
Published December 31, 2008 09:30 AM

How Green Is Apple?

SAN FRANCISCO – Apple Inc.'s eye-catching logo - an apple with a bite taken from it - has come in many colors in the past. Now, the iconic computer company is trying to prove its commitment to the color green.

In recent advertising, the Cupertino, Calif., company presents itself as an environmental leader. Apple's Web site bills its new line of MacBook computers as "the world's greenest family of notebooks." It now makes iPods and iPhones free of polyvinyl chlorides and brominated flame retardant, and it's in the final stages of making all of its products without bromine and chlorine. Both chemicals have been criticized for creating toxic byproducts.

Competitors and environmentalists, however, say Apple's green efforts have less to do with cleaning up its products and manufacturing and more to do with marketing. In a recent blog posting, a senior executive at Round Rock, Texas-based Dell Inc. said he was "surprised" by Apple's claims of environmental-friendliness. Environmental groups, like Greenpeace, point to surveys ranking Apple below other computer makers, such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard Co. in green practices.


"Apple is... guilty of using 'green' as a marketing ploy, rather than making green a core part of their business practices," said Stephen Stokes, vice president of business and climate change at AMR Research Inc.

Determining Apple's "green-ness" is difficult because much of the information reported to authorities, like the Environmental Protection Agency, is provided voluntarily. Both Apple and its detractors have ample data to make their cases. However, Apple's recent decision to highlight its environmental efforts leaves the company's eco-track record open to scrutiny and criticism at a time when green issues are coming to the fore.

Success in promoting its record could help Apple lure more consumers, who are increasingly considering the environmental impact of their choices, to the company's products. That could help Apple spur sales and its slumping share price, which has fallen 57% so far this year, far worse than Morgan Stanley Technology Index's 47% drop.

Apple declined to comment for this story, but Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said in an October report on Apple's Web site that his company was committed to developing green practices.

"I'm proud to report that all of Apple's new product designs are on track to meet our 2008 year-end goal," Jobs wrote. Among those: eliminating polyvinyl chloride and brominated flame retardants from all its products by 2009, and removing mercury and arsenic from its products' displays.

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