Apple urged to deepen recycling commitment

Apple urged to deepen recycling commitment

Summary: Green activists want Apple to lead the way by taking back all of its old kit including its "toxic doorstop" Mac Classics, not just iPods

TOPICS: Hardware

Environmental campaigners have claimed that Apple's commitment to offer free recycling of its iPod music player doesn't go far enough and should be extended to all of the company's products.

Apple announced this week that customers who return an iPod to one of the company's stores in the US will get 10 percent off the price of a new one. Apple pledged to dispose of all the iPods brought in for free. To be eligible for the offer, people must bring in a standard iPod, an iPod Mini or the photo version, and use the discount the same day.

Recycling is an increasingly important issue in the IT space, and Apple's move indicates that the firm is responding to this challenge. But the Computer TakeBack Campaign (CTBC), an environmental group, claims that although the iPod plan is a step in the right direction, the company should commit to taking back its entire range of products.

"If you can do it with the iPod, you can do it with all your products," said Robin Schneider, vice-chair of the CTBC. "What about the Apple II, and IIe and Mac Classics that are being used as toxic doorstops? Apple can be a real innovator here and offer to take back all these old computers at their stores."

In April, chief executive 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.

Speaking at the time, 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".

The CTBC advocates a policy of "extended producer responsibility" where IT vendors take charge of disposal of obsolete products and recycle remaining materials. The group claims that controlled recycling programs help keep products out of landfills or being sent of to poor communities in China or India. "Both Dell and HP have endorsed the extended producer responsibility model but Apple has not," said the CTBC in statement.

Apple had not responded to requests for comment at the time of writing, but a company spokeswoman did point out that the company has a recycling policy. This says that "Apple takes great care in choosing recycling partners that will manage the materials recovered through our take-back programmes in an environmentally responsible manner. For specific take-back programmes, equipment is assessed for refurbishment and reuse possibilities. As a result, components and subassemblies that might otherwise be sent to landfill are given a new life."

Apple does operate an equipment take-back service in the US and Canada, although there is a $30 fee (£16).

Topic: Hardware

Andrew Donoghue

About Andrew Donoghue

"If I'd written all the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people - including me - would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism."

Hunter S. Thompson

Andrew Donoghue is a freelance technology and business journalist with over ten years on leading titles such as Computing, SC Magazine, BusinessGreen and

Specialising in sustainable IT and technology in the developing world, he has reported and volunteered on African aid projects, as well as working with charitable organisations such as the UN Foundation and Computer Aid.

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  • Just do it Jobs
  • If apple does expand enviomental programs, they will win more fans. It is that simple.

    Microsoft is getting desperate, Apple and Linux is showing there is "another way" as the Natwest ad goes.
  • I think Apple have the style to pull it off and force the rest of the industry to look bad if they don't follow.

    Would be good to see.

    I think I posted this before but I'll say it again.

    IT tech refresh and rollout projects need to think more about the recycling of the packaging of the equipment. I've seen too many landfill skips stuffed full with mixed cardboard, polystyrene, plastics and even all the manuals and cd's they ship out with the machines. Would it really take much effort to ship them without a set for each unit. All they need is a couple of the correct packs sent on each project site.