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Apple & Jobs come clean, go iGreen

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Steve Jobs has a new product plan on his mind – iGreen. In a pretty obvious response to Greenpeace’s brutally low “green rating” of Apple’s use of chemicals and its recycling methods, Steve Jobs blogged about the steps Apple has taken, and will take, to be friendlier on the environment.

Considering Apple’s obsessive control over its brand, it’s not hard to see why Jobs is rushing to collect in on some green goodwill.

Jobs’ post is the latest in a booming trend of tech companies -– Google, Yahoo, H-P, IBM — pushing eco practices, like reducing their carbon footprints, boosting recycling programs, and adding energy efficiencies. Like Job’s writing on DRM and music helped bring that topic to the forefront, this latest note will bring needed attention to new environmentally sound business practices. And while this announcement might look as much like marketing as anything else, a little hype mixed in with helping the environment isn’t so bad.

Much of Job’s post is a point by point argument defending Apple’s eco-side, by pointing out things like the company’s elimination of lead-containing cathode ray tube displays. He even needles that Dell, Gateway, HP and Lenovo are still shipping these displays. But a good section of the article is also a pledge for new practices, like promising to introduce displays using arsenic-free glass this year, and eliminating the use of arsenic in all displays by the end of 2008.

In response to Job’s post, Greenpeace has upgraded Apple’s rating from 2.7 to 5 out of 10. Though they still say “It’s not everything we asked for.”

What the post makes obvious is that touting your earth-friendly accomplishments is starting to become a necessary part of a company’s branding. ‘Greening’ has gone full frenzy in the wake of Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth and the generation that is in high school and college now are coming of age with these ideals.

From a purely business perspective smart tech brands will have to evolve to survive and keep the next generation of consumers happy. And from a planet perspective, there’s overwhelming evidence that the business world needs to do its best to reverse environmentally harmful practices.

From Job’s post it seems like Apple has taken decent action to eliminate chemicals and recycle, just a relatively crappy job of communicating it.

Job’s writes:

Today is the first time we have openly discussed our plans to become a greener Apple. It will not be the last. . . . We apologize for leaving you in the dark for this long.

Hopefully Job’s post will shed some light on this issue for the rest of the tech industry as well.

11 Responses to “Apple & Jobs come clean, go iGreen”

  1. Katie, glad to see the green coverage get started at GigaOm. Agreed about the new generation of consumers. As consumers slowly start to hold themselves more accountable, they’ll only increase the pressure they put on businesses. There should be more good stuff to come from Apple. Their community will demand it.

  2. Yes, people buy Apple products because they like the products. But with all things being equal and there are two great products on the market, factors like social responsibility come into play. They should and do affect consumers purchases. We consumers are the ones who support anti-child labor, improving the environment, fair trade, etc. by the purchases we make and supporting companies that support and uphold good causes is important to a lot of people. Jobs & Apple are great examples of global leaders.

  3. Greenpeace rated Apple last. Point by point Jobs proved Apple was first. His open letter proves that Greenpeace will say anything to get free publicity.

    The environment was the last thing on the agenda when it came to Greenpeace’s Green My Apple campaign. It was all about picking on a manufacturer with cache to get the best exposure for a very lucrative membership drive. They lost my support.

  4. The Greenpeace campaign was fluff. No real numbers and little explanation of how they arrived at the ratings they did.

    Should have done their homework first.

  5. A race to be green is a race that everyone wins. So, Google, how about using fuel cells (combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, with the only by-products pure water and heat) to power those energy-gobbling server farms? (Nudge, nudge :-) We’re using them today as the power supply for a 50,00 line central office switch on Long Island. Here’s a post at our Verizon PolicyBlog from earlier this year about our hybrid vans and fuel cell program:

  6. Eddie,

    One cannot ignore the fact that Al Gore sits on the board of APple, and all the cool friends of Jobs are on the green bandwagon these days.

    If he can cause a positive change in attitudes and help improve the environment, what ever the reasons might be, i think it is still fine by me.

  7. Eddie

    I’m not so sure that being seen to be green is as important as Katie is making it out to be. I’m not saying that Greenpeace and Al Gore have no impact on teens and young adults, but those teens and young adults I doubt will boycott Apple (human nature is “give me” or as Marc Porat the former CEO of General Magic once said in the early 1990s, its the era of “I Want”). “I Want” will probably always overrule people’s concern for the environment (unless the environment is unbearable to live in)

  8. agree that extra attention on being more environmentally friendly regardless of motivation is good.
    this article furthers the evidence that there is no better master of pr & publicity than jobs and apple. now if he could just get the backdating thing to go away.