Apple urged to deepen recycling commitment

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

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).


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