Apple computers aren’t as eco-friendly as they seem.
The Computer TakeBack Coalition (CTBC) is watching how the makers of Apple and PC computers are addressing the electronic industry’s biggest environmental issue: how do we get rid of them once they’re outdated?
CTBC uses several tools to evaluate a company’s environmental responsibility. One of them is said company’s responsibility (or lack thereof) in a computer takeback program, a project that requires the manufacturer to offer free recycling to consumers at the end of the computer’s useful life. Ideally, once a consumer has decided they are in need of a new piece of technology, they simply pack up the old comp and ship it back to the company, where the manufacturer can refurbish, resell, or donate it, or have it stripped down so the materials may be reused in an eco-friendly way.
In a recent report, CTBC revealed that no-cost computer takeback programs were being offered only by three companies. None of them were Apple.
Climate Counts, another consumer watchdog that ranks popular companies like Coca-Cola, Disney, and Burger King with “scorecards” on a 100-point scale recently released its evaluation of the top computer manufacturers. Apple does rank in its “Best Choice” category for green practices, but it comes in last with a score of 69. Sony, Toshiba, and Dell (all PCs) come in at least nine points higher; Hewlett-Packard got a stellar score of 85/100.
In fairness, Apple has raised its score 9 points from last year. Then again, PC competitor Dell has come up 13 points for a score of 70.
According to Bright Hub’s segment on Green Computing, Apple’s Steve Jobs has beefed up his efforts to market the eco-friendliness of the company:
…Jobs has been making a lot of statements in the last year about his company doing more to join the ranks of the “bright green.” Jobs touts efforts to remove toxic chemicals from its computers, engage in responsible recycling and reduce its carbon footprint.
So where do we stand on the issue of who’s greener, Apple or PC ? Apple seems to doing a lot lately, especially in the area of making promises.
In 18 facilities Apple’s audit revealed a system in which workers were made to pay recruitment fees that bonded them to a modern-day indentured servitude. In these cases, workers passed through a network of hiring agencies to attain employment. Subagencies would recruit workers from villages in places like Vietnam or Cambodia, and pass them from agency to agency until factories hired them in Taiwan, Malaysia, or Singapore. “By the time the worker has paid all fees across these agencies, the total cost can equal many months’ wages, forcing workers into debt to gain employment,” according to the audit.
So before getting all googley-eyed over the new iPad at your next visit to the Apple store, be sure to check the news headlines.