Apple's Jobs throws HP and Dell under the Prius

Summary:Apple has taken its share of environmental hits and CEO Steve Jobs has had enough. And he's willing to throw HP and Dell under the Prius while he's at it.

Apple has taken its share of environmental hits and CEO Steve Jobs has had enough. And he's willing to throw HP and Dell under the Prius while he's at it.

In a blog post dubbed "A Greener Apple" Jobs outlines the company's green IT strategy, which has been a hot topic of late. Gartner thinks it's going to be a huge issue for the technology industry.

In a nutshell, Jobs highlights Apple's environmental efforts and apparently chafes at how rival PC makers are talking up their green efforts. Says 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. Whatever other improvements we need to make, it is certainly clear that we have failed to communicate the things that we are doing well.

Communication is one thing. Marketing is another. Jobs' blog has a distinct pattern: He notes Apple's environmental initiatives and then throws rivals under the Prius.

For instance, Jobs writes about lead and how cathode-ray tube (CRT) displays put a lot of the chemical in the environment.

In mid-2006, Apple became the first company in the computer industry to completely eliminate CRTs. The effect has been stunning — our first CRT-based iMac contained 484 grams of lead; our current third-generation LCD-based iMac contains less than 1 gram of lead.

Under the Prius moment: "Dell, Gateway, Hewlett Packard and Lenovo still ship CRT displays today," writes Jobs.

On cadium, hexavalent chromium and decabromodiphenyl ether, Jobs says Apple complies with European Union regulations (called RoHS) on those chemicals. Rivals are getting by on these regulations with exemptions, Jobs notes.

Under the Prius moment: "Some electronics companies, whose names you know, still rely on RoHS exemptions and use these toxic chemicals in their products today," says Jobs.

On arsenic and mercury, Jobs says Apple will eliminate arsenic in displays by the end of 2008. As for mercury, Apple will "reduce and eventually eliminate the use of mercury by transitioning to LED backlighting for all displays when technically and economically feasible."

Under the Prius moment: Shockingly none.

Turns out there were no zingers above because Job was saving it up for his missive on polyvinyl chloride (PVC). In full:

Some companies have made promises to phase out 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, or BFRs, which reduce the risk of fire. Apple began phasing out PVC twelve years ago and began restricting BFRs in 2001. For the past several years, we have been developing alternative materials that can replace these chemicals without compromising the safety or quality of our products. Today, we’ve successfully eliminated the largest applications of PVC and BFRs in our products, and we’re close to eliminating these chemicals altogether. For example, more than three million iPods have already shipped with a BFR-free laminate on their logic boards.

Dell and Lenovo have publicly stated that they plan to eliminate the use of PVC and BFRs in their products in 2009. Hewlett Packard has not yet publicly stated when they will eliminate the use of PVC and BFRs in their products, but has said that they will publish a plan by the end of 2007 which will state when in the future they will eliminate the use of these toxic chemicals in their products.

Apple plans to completely eliminate the use of PVC and BFRs in its products by the end of 2008.

A note of comparison — In 2007 HP stated that they will remove PVC from all their packaging. Apple did this 12 years ago. Last year, Dell began the process of phasing out large quantities of brominated flame retardants in large plastic enclosure parts. Apple’s plastic enclosure parts have been bromine-free since 2002.

Under the Prius moment: "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). In reality, Apple is ahead of all of these companies in eliminating toxic chemicals from its products."

On recycling, Jobs noted that it recycled 13 million pounds of e-waste in 2006, or 9.5 percent of all products Apple sold in the last seven years. By 2008, that percentage will be 20 percent.

Under the Prius moment: "A note of comparison — the latest figures from HP and Dell are each around 10% per year, and neither company has yet disclosed plans to grow this percentage in the future. By 2010, Apple may be recycling significantly more than either Dell or HP as a percentage of past sales weight."

We applaud Apple's environmental effort. But one question remains: Is this blog post meant to outline Apple's green strategy or bash rivals over the head? 

Topics: Hewlett-Packard, Apple, Dell, IT Employment

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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