Green up my Mac

Is this merely Apple patting itself on the back or a genuine effort to lessen the environmental impact of their products? Aside from the lower use of toxic materials (which is to be applauded), Steve Jobs claims that Apple recycled 13 million pounds of “ewaste” last year (9.5% of the weight of product sold 7 years ago) and plans to improve on it. It raises the question of what the 13 million pounds refers to: starting weight of the products or actual weight of suitably reused/recycled material? This comparison suggests the 13 million refers to total product weight and not weight of material recycled. (Actually, while I’m wondering out loud about the validity of the comparison, how about making the products last longer so there’s less frequent turnover? Ah… It doesn’t make business sense, that’s why…)

Anyway, it’s an effort to be encouraged and not to put down too much. Perhaps this little piece of PR will encourage the other major computer manufacturers to put some of this in practice themselves (unless they already do, but just haven’t come out and said so). I wonder if there are smaller manufacturers out there who are already making greener machines but just not shouting loud enough for a deaf person like me to hear (whatever happened to that $100 laptop project, and will they be recycling the end-of-life products too?).

And speaking of recycling, back to Apple’s announcement of their greenhood. If you are one of the many people hanging on to a defunct 2G or 3G iPod with a failed battery, perhaps this 10%-off-future-purchase-unless-you’ve-already-given-up-and-switched-to-a-Zune offer will appeal:

Let me take a moment to talk specifically about iPods, even though they are included in the above data. All of Apple’s U.S. retail stores, which now number more than 150, take back unwanted iPods for environmentally friendly disposal free of charge. As an incentive, we even offer customers a 10% discount on a new iPod when they bring their old iPod to our stores for proper disposal. This summer we’re expanding it to Apple retail stores worldwide, and we’re also extending it to include free shipping from anywhere in the U.S. No product purchases are required for any of our free take back programs. In a few months, we think we’ll have ‘best of breed’ iPod recycling programs in the U.S., and we plan to continue to expand our free iPod recycling programs globally in the future.

Incidentally, over at treehugger.com, they’re promoting an energy-saving alternative google search page, which is not green in the sense of the colour spectrum. Unfortunately, going by the stream of comments at the end of the post, it sounds like this is only useful for CRT monitors and will make no perceptible energy savings on LCD screens. I wonder if lower page load times on the more popular sites (like the Beeb’s news page) would help save energy. Or browsing via RSS feeds instead. Or blogging less. That last one I can definitely do.

Disclaimer: I currently love Apple products and own a Powerbook, 3 iPods (don’t ask… I’m not as green as I’d like to be), 1 AirTunes router and a small smattering of accessories. So I might be considered somewhat biased.

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