Thursday, October 1, 2009

ZDNet Speaks re Apple

September 30th, 2009
Apple declares its environmental credentials

Posted by Heather Clancy @ 5:50 am

Much has been cyber-ink has been spilled (spilt?) over the past several days about Apple’s new Environmental disclosure site called, aptly enough, Apple and the Environment.

For all its vaunted and legendary hipness, Apple hasn’t been as vocal as its high-tech rivals in the green IT department, probably because it hasn’t had such spectacular things to say until just recently. Remember the public spat between Dell and Apple over green technology claims earlier this year? Apple hasn’t exactly scored very well on certain rankings, either, compared with its biggest rivals.

Now it has some good-ish news to report, like the fact that it takes 40 percent less packaging to ship 32,000 MacBook notebook computers in 2009 compared with what it took in 2006. Or that the 2008 model of the 15-inch MacBook Pro emits less carbon dioxide per hour of use than does a 60-watt lightbulb. OR, that in 2008, the company recycled 33 million pounds of electronic waste, or roughly 41.9 percent of the total weight of all the products it sold 7 years earlier. Although the actual amount recycled may seem really teeny compared with other technology companies, what percentage of the products that those companies ship out into the world actually are recycled?

Even Apple high priest Steve Jobs, who has been obviously been laying low for months for health reasons, is speaking out about the company’s green profile. When Steve talks about something, you KNOW its a pretty big deal for the entire company.

As you might expect, Apple’s new environmental reporting site is highly graphical, which gives you a pretty quick at a glance idea of how much damage you’re doing to the planet when you buy an Apple product.

What I’m REALLY longing for, though, is a better comparative site, where I could analyze an Apple model against, say, a Dell model in a more straightforward manner. There are so many variables that go into some of the green IT certifications (ala EPEAT), that you’re never really sure if you’re comparing apples to apples.

Now, I know many of you corporate IT types are thinking at this point: “Who cares about Apple?” You probably don’t, although plenty of small-business owners who make technology buying decisions DO care, especially as the Macintosh OS gains more business-friendly features that make them easier to manage than the alternatives. This is important information for them.

That is because while many high-tech vendors have been falling over themselves for months to preach the green IT gospel to the largest companies AND to consumers, the concerns of smaller businesses have been largely left out of the conversation.

Apple has now made it awfully easy to analyze the impact of its technology and of the process by which its products are made and get into your hands. Not to take away from the great work that Dell and Hewlett-Packard have done in that regard, but the simplicity of Apple’s disclosures is definitely worth emulating.

Heather Clancy

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