When we released our iPhone testing results that revealed toxic chemicals in the iPhone, chemicals that other phone makers have removed, we expected the news to travel. Two days after the release there's been loads of coverage, especially online, varying of course from the factually accurate in wired to the predictable ranting, like this on gizmodo.
Normally Apple doesn't comment on bad news unless its really thinks it has to. This is the comment they gave to Macworld:
"Like all Apple products worldwide, iPhone complies with RoHS [Restriction of Hazardous Substances], the world's toughest restrictions on toxic substances in electronics," an Apple spokesperson, told Macworld. "As we have said, Apple will voluntarily eliminate the use of PVC and BFRs by the end of 2008."
Today the IT website 'The Register' published this headline "Greenpeace admits iPhone 'compliant' with Euro chemicals rules" claiming the most important fact is Apple complies with minimum legal requirements like RoHS.
Of course they do - they have to, but this was not the purpose of our report. Our report was comparing if Apple was making progress compared to other mobile phone makers. Especially after Steve Jobs claimed on May 2nd: "Apple is ahead of, or will soon be ahead of, most of its competitors" on environmental issues.
Our toxic campaigner, Zeina (an expert in regulations with strange acronyms like RoHS) spells out why RoHS compliance isn't a big deal even if Apple PR and some blogs might thinks it is.
"Reading the response from Apple, I am actually puzzled whether they missed the point here or are they running away from the challenge.
RoHS is irrelevant to this issue - everyone knows that all major electronics firms who sell in Europe should be completely RoHS compliant. Actually a number of the electronic companies are RoHS compliant globally.
The purpose of our analysis was to see how the iPhone compares to competitors on toxic chemicals being the newest electronics gadgets that is changing the electronics industry."
We did not test the others brands because the data about them is available on the companies' websites. Nokia has a clear PVC-free policy for all its new mobiles since early 2007. Sony Ericsson and Motorola have already BFRs (brominated flame retardant) free components on the market. Apple doesn't disclose these information and doesn't have any unique cases studies despite Steve Jobs' statement on May 2nd mention above.
When the iPhone was released, there was no mention of its environmental characteristics. Therefore, we had to do the testing of the iPhone and its now clear that Apple is behind other phone makers.
Apple as a leader of innovation must be ahead of the curve on environment as well as on design.