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Apple labeled an environmental laggard yet again

By Kenneth Barbalace
[Friday, May 09, 2008]

Once again Apple ranked dead last on an environmental organization's survey of electronics manufacturers. One year ago (April 2007), Green Peace ranked Apple dead last on their survey of electronics companies because of Apple's secretiveness about their environmental practices and their failure to disclose measures they were taking to remove hazardous chemicals from their manufacturing processes. This time around, the environmental organization Climate Counts (ClimateCounts.org), which focuses on climate change issues, ranked Apple last among electronics companies survey with a score of 11 out of a possible 100.

Apple has worked hard over the years to cultivate an image of being cool, trendy and better than the rest. As such, I'm stunned at how badly they keep scoring on environmental surveys. I would have expected Apple to embrace being environmentally and socially responsible as key aspects of cultivating a "cool mystique". After all, their key demographic base tends to be very progressive on these issues. Maybe Steve Jobs hopes that consumers will keep drinking the Apple cool-aid and not question how socially and/or environmentally responsible Apple really is.

This day in age being a cool/hip company is more than product marketing and design, it also requires being socially and environmentally responsible. Apple should be consistently showing up at the top of these environmental surveys, not at the bottom well below "less cool" companies like Microsoft. Maybe Steve Jobs needs the legions of Apple fans to stand up and demand that Apple become an environmental and social leader before he comes around on these issues. Please, if you are a consumer of Apple's products, stand up and let Steve Jobs know that you expect more out of his company than just the next must have electronic gizmo with batteries that die after two years. Tell him that as a consumer, the environment really does matter.

What the Climate Counts survey evaluated

The Climate Counts survey looked what some of the worlds largest consumer companies are doing to:

  • reduce emissions in their production processes;
  • make products that require less energy;
  • take back products that are obsolete and turning them into the next big thing;
  • measure their own climate "footprint";
  • reduce their impact on global warming;
  • support or block climate legislation;
  • publically disclose their climate actions clearly and comprehensibly.

How other technology companies scored

The number one electronics company on Climate Counts' list was IBM (77 out of 100) followed by Canon (74/100) and Toshiba (70/100) rounding out the top three. Other notable technology companies reviewed by Climate Counts included: Google, which scored 55 out of 100; Microsoft, which scored better than Apple, but was still less than stellar at 38 out of 100.

The ten highest scoring companies on Climate Counts' list

  1. Nike (apparel/accessories): 82/100
  2. Stonyfield Farm (food products): 78/100
  3. IBM (electronics): 77/100
  4. Unilever (food products): 75/100
  5. Canon (electronics): 74/100
  6. General Electric (Media): 71/100
  7. Toshiba (electronics): 70/100
  8. Procter & Gamble (household products): 69/100
  9. Hewlett-Packard (electronics):68/100
  10. Sony (electronics): 68/100

The ten lowest scoring companies on Climate Counts' list

  1. Wendy's international (food services): 0/100
  2. Jones Apparel Group (apparel/accessories): 0/100
  3. Darden Restaurants (food services): 0/100
  4. Burger King (food services): 0/100
  5. Yum! Brands (food services): 1/100
  6. Viacom (media): 4/100
  7. VF Corporation (apparel/accessories): 4/100
  8. eBay (Internet/software): 5/100
  9. Amazon.com (Internet/software): 5/100
  10. Apple (electronics): 11/100


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