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Summary:

Greenpeace is lauding Apple while chastising Dell this morning. The do-gooders sent out a note pointing out that, while Apple’s iPhone’s are free of chemicals, Dell still hasn’t implemented a previous commitment to eliminate chemicals by the end of 2009.

Greenpeace — the fly in the ointment for tech firms — is lauding Apple while chastising Dell this morning. The do-gooders sent out a note pointing out that, while Apple’s wildly popular iPhone’s are free of PVC plastic and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) (two nasty chemicals), Dell still hasn’t implemented its previous commitment to eliminate the two chemicals by the end of 2009.

In Greenpeace’s latest Guide to Greener Electronics Dell is about average, and places 10 on a scale of 18, five places below competitor Apple. But while Dell has made some impressive moves to reduce its carbon footprint and has been offering more eco-friendly products (see the bamboo laptop), Greenpeace gave it a big old penalty point for backtracking on its commitment to eliminate PVC plastic and BFRs by 2009. Dell does pledge to remove the chemicals by the end of 2011 but only for computing products.

It wasn’t long ago that Greenpeace was prodding Apple to disclose its carbon footprint, and become more aggressive on greening its gadgets. In a Business Week article last year, Apple’s fearless leader Steve Jobs noted that Greenpeace’s criticism of Apple was one of the motivations behind Apple unveiling its carbon footprint, its carbon accounting methods and Jobs pledging to make “a greener Apple.” Apple has since moved up in the ranks of Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Gadgets where it is now #5.

Dell and Apple have been longtime competitors in the marketplace, but also when it comes to getting recognition for their green projects. Last year, Dell took Apple to task over Apple’s claims that it had “the world’s greenest family of notebooks” — first in a smackdown post on its company blog and later with a complaint filed with the advertising industry’s self-regulator, the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, or NAD. NAD concluded that Apple can legitimately market its latest generation of MacBooks as being greener than some product lines from a given competitor (the new MacBooks earn high Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, or EPEAT, ratings) but that “world’s greenest” has “potential for overstatement.”

Greenpeace’s ultimate goal is to get all of the tech companies to move more quickly to eliminate chemicals, recycle and reduce carbon footprints and pitting competitors against each other is a common strategy.

Image courtesy of Greenpeace.

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By Katie Fehrenbacher

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  1. Title should really be: “Greenpeace performs quarterly PR stunt to bring in donations.”

  2. MIchelle at Dell Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    Hi Katie – This is Michelle at Dell.

    With regard to Greenpeace’s call to action, let me assure you of three things:
    1) We will eliminate all remaining use of BFR/PVC from our personal computing products, building on the significant progress we’ve made toward that goal since 1996. Our G-series LED monitors, for example, are already free of PVC, BFR, arsenic and mercury.
    2) We have committed to eliminating these substances from all newly shipping systems by the end of 2011.
    3) This task presents challenges, but we’re working closely with our suppliers to find reliable, environmentally preferable alternatives that maintain the performance standards our customers require.

    Building greener products is just one aspect of Dell’s commitment to environmental responsibility, in addition to providing free, convenient consumer recycling programs; our industry-leading ban on exporting e-waste; designing more sustainable packaging from materials such as bamboo; and meeting 25 percent of our company’s energy needs using renewable energy such as wind and solar.

    While we’ve made solid progress in our quest for environmental stewardship, we know there’s more work to do. And we have line of sight to achieving our PVC/BFR elimination goal.

    Thanks for the opportunity to discuss. -Michelle

  3. Katie Fehrenbacher Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    @Michelle, Thanks for the update. Good to know.

  4. Greenpeace always goes after the biggest guns that give them the most PR rather than the ones REALLY making the biggest messes. I just can’t take them seriously anymore. They should go join PETA and hug some “sea kittens.”

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  6. And yet, without groups like Greenpeace and PETA, none of these tech companies would have reduced the toxins in their products, nor would cosmetics companies have moved away from using animal cruelty as a method to obtain profits.

    They exist to remind corporations that they’re allowed to operate at the benefit of the society we all live in, and not the other way around.

  7. Michelle at Dell Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    Hi Katie:

    Ha! Fooled you!

    M

    1. Katie – Michelle at Dell here again. Just saw the “ha, fooled you” post… Not sure who wrote that, but be assured that it wasn’t anyone from Dell. -Michelle

  8. coolrepublica Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    Greenpeace is populated by morons.

    Apple products are the furthest things from green. You want green tech companies? they don’t exist. By nature the tech sector is about consuming. They make their products to brake so you can buy new one very often. The guiltiest of all companies is Apple. Their products are beautifully made and well design which means they are fragile and brake easy. I know I own enough of them.

    I don’t own any dells but if they make their hardware to last they have already out-green apple.

    I bet a lot of these greenpeace members own iphone 3gs and were in line this year to get an iphone 4. So they can take their lecture about being green and shove it. those phones don’t use resources from replicators.

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