How green is that iPhone?

Feature story - June 14, 2007
At the end of June Apple will launch its first major product since Steve Jobs 'A Greener Apple' statement. So how green will the iPhone be?

User created design from the Green my Apple campaign.

Like everyone else we don't know what's in the iPhone yet. It debutsJune 29th. But we already know how green a phone can be. Nokia, SonyEricsson, and Motorola have both removed some of the worst chemicalsfrom their phones and identified extra toxic chemicals they intend toremove in the future -- even beyond the minimal legal requirements.

Nokia and Sony Ericsson have a global take-back policy for their phonesand accept their responsibility to reuse and recycle the phones theymanufacture. That saves resources and helps prevent old phones endingup as e-waste dumped in Asia.

Update:

So the iPhone is out. Not a singleword from Apple about any green features. Nothing about reducing toxicchemicals or encouraging recycling for old phones dumped for theiPhone. Maybe it's just another case of Apple 'failing to communicate'its environmental priority? What is for sure is the iPhone appears farbehind greener phones from Nokia and Sony Ericsson. That's a missedopportunity for Steve to prove his commitment to a "Greener Apple" andbad news for the planet. (We'll be investigating further so stay tuned).

"There's already phones that do this"

Due to our successful Green my Apple campaign Steve claimed: "Apple isahead of, or will soon be ahead of, most of its competitors" onenvironmental issues. This is Apple's chance to prove it.

To be only asgood as Nokia and Sony Ericsson, Apple should:

  • Not use toxic chemicals like brominated flame retardants and Polyvinyl Chloride in the iPhone.
  • Offer for free worldwide take-back for the iPhone.


Analysts are projecting between 4 to 10 million iPhones will be sold inthe first year.  This is a big chance for Apple to avoid the useof a lot of toxic chemicals. And how soon will those 4 to 10 millioniPhones be made obsolete by Apple's next big innovation? Becausemillions of them will be cast aside as old gadgets when the latestarrives. Will Apple offer global options to prevent them from becominge-waste?

Some might point out that the iPhone has already been made and shippedso it's too late to make any changes. But Apple uses the same supplier (Foxconn)as Nokia for parts of its iPhone. So theoretically Apple could havespecified parts free of the worst toxic chemicals from a supplieralready meeting Nokia's strict chemicals requirements.

Carbon calling

What will Apple do to address the extra energy iPhones will consume?Nokia and Motorola are focussing on making their phone chargers moreefficient; Nokia is developing user warnings to unplug when the phoneis charged.

Will the iPhone have a user replaceable battery, to prevent iPhones with broken batteries become premature e-waste?

Dell vs Apple: Eco-Rumble in the Electronics Jungle

If Steve was serious that Apple was already making environmentconsiderations a priority then the iPhone launch will be the firstchance to prove it with a greener product. With Steve and Michael Dellseemingly publicly slugging it out for the title of greenest computercompany, maybe Steve will land the next green blow by launching a phoneeven greener than those currently on the market.  This is hischance to demonstrate a major Apple product that has been designed withenvironmental concerns as a priority.

There's a lot of people expecting nothing less from Steve.

Take action

Challenge the major computer makers to see who will be the first to match their promises by putting a less toxic computer on the market.

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