Like many people, I heard the sad news of the passing of Steve Jobs first thing this morning, shouted up the stairs before I was properly awake. My first thought was the sadness of the news, then about the legacy left by Steve Jobs. While for many, his legacy is in the products they own, for me it is the changes Apple made under Steve’s leadership to drive the electronics industry towards a clean future that are well worth remembering.

Greenpeace and Apple have history. During our campaigning for a greener electronics industry, Apple and Steve Jobs have been central figures. I never met him, but I think it’s safe to say he was never a Greenpeace fan. Despite this, he did make a rare promise in 2007 to be the first computer company to phase out the worst hazardous substances from all Apple products. In 2008 Apple lead the industry with the first computers virtually free of toxic PVC and BFRs. He clearly understood the value to Apple of being the first. Today, all Apple products are free of these hazardous substances and where Apple lead, HP, Acer and others have followed. That alone made Steve Jobs ultimately a valuable ally in the fight for a toxics free future.

There’s still much more for Apple and the rest of industry to do to be truly sustainable, both in terms of toxic free products and a clean energy future. But today is a day to reflect that among all of Steve Jobs achievements in the technology industry, one of the less well known ones is one of the most important. We need many more leaders like Jobs at the top of global companies who have the vision, drive and personality to deliver real solutions to the environmental challenges of today.

Rest in peace Steve Jobs, and thank you for leaving the world a greener Apple.