Dear Apple: Are Green MacBooks All We Get?

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Published on December 5th, 2008  |  Discuss This Article  

Phillipp Roth)

Last night I saw one of those ubiquitous Apple ads touting the environmental benefits of the new MacBook computer, and listing the following green attributes of the latest Apple must-have:

•    An aluminum and glass enclosure that is “completely recyclable”;
•    The ability to “run on a quarter of the power of a single light bulb”; and
•    Construction “without many of the harmful toxins found in other computers. “

It concludes by saying the new MacBooks are “the world’s greenest family of notebooks.”

Modesty has never been Apple’s strong suit.

So what’s the truth behind the advertising? Well, the truth is the MacBooks are pretty darn green. As The Christian Science Monitor’s excellent bright green blog notes:

The displays of the new MacBooks and MacBook Pros contain no arsenic or mercury. The computers innards –- the circuit boards, cables, and connectors –- contain no brominated flame retardants. And the cables contain no PVCs.

What’s more, the MacBooks earned the highest rating from the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT), which monitors the environmental attributes of desktop and notebook computers.

Does this signal a new, green day for Apple? I think the jury is still out.

If Apple is really going to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability, it needs to do more to green-up its line of iPod and iPhone products. This doesn’t mean just making them out of recyclable materials –- it means making them last longer.

The current lifespan of an iPod is a woeful two-to-three years. Add in accidental breakage and the urge to upgrade to new releases, which come every four to nine months, and the lifespan drops even further.

Yes, Apple has a decent in-store recycling plan. But more and more, the iPod is becoming a throw-away product…and a lot of them ending up in landfills.

For Apple to really walk the walk on green products, it needs to ensure that iPods and iPhones are durable, have batteries that are easily replaced –- battery failure is one of the primary reason iPods are ditched –- and it must scale back its release schedule.

That last bit will likely never happen, but the first two are more than doable.

(Photo: Phillipp Roth)

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