Greenpeace Hugs Apple, Kicks Sand At Dell

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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