Apple, Greenpeace fight over standards

Summary:The environmental watchdog has criticised Apple's "green" claims, saying the Mac-maker is disingenuous in saying it has a strong environmental track record.

Greenpeace has criticised Apple's "green" claims, saying the Mac-maker is disingenuous in saying it has a strong environmental track record.

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Earlier this month, Greenpeace released the latest edition of its Guide to Greener Electronics, designed to help consumers and businesses gauge how green tech companies are. Chinese PC maker moved from bottom of the pile to top the guide, while Apple languished in last place.

Apple Australia spokesperson Fiona Martin disagreed with the ranking, saying the company's "desktops, notebooks and displays each score best in class in the new EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) ranking system".

"Apple has a strong environmental track record and has led the industry in restricting and banning toxic substances such as mercury, cadmium and hexavalent chromium, as well as many BFRs (brominated fire retardants). We have also completely eliminated CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors, which contain lead, from our product line," according to Martin.

But Greenpeace spokesperson Zelina Alhajj disagreed with Apple's stance.

"Apple keeps referring to CRTs, mercury, cadmium, chromium and lead as their environmental record but they don't refer to the fact that CRT is an old technology that the whole industry has shifted away from," Alhajj told ZDNet Australia.

Alhajj said the EPA tool which Apple referred to -- EPEAT or Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool -- is less robust than the organisation's processes.

"Apple keeps making reference to the EPEAT but Apple is patting itself on the back with kid gloves.

"The EPEAT criteria is less stringent that the Greenpeace criteria ... EPEAT does not require the elimination of controversial chemicals used by the [IT] industry like PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and BFRs (brominated fire retardants) -- two types of toxic chemicals that other manufacturers have already agreed to phase out," Alhajj added.

Apple's Martin said the company was exceeding internationally accepted standards. "EPEAT is based on IEEE [Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers] criteria."

"We've completely eliminated CRTs, I don't know that any other manufacturer can make that claim. And we've eliminated hexavalent chromium.

"Apple has an extremely strong history in making major steps towards a better environment and we are continuing to drive this agenda," Martin said.

Topics: Apple, Emerging Tech, Hardware, Reviews

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