Little Green Apple

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Date: Friday, May 11th, 2007, 08:21
Category: Opinion

Greenpeace has been putting pressure on Apple to go green for years and it appears to have finally born fruit. In a recent letter, Steve Jobs said that he was surprised to find out how much Apple was doing and that he was delighted to learn how far along Apple is in dealing with these issues. He is a very hands on guy, but this makes it seem as if he has been out of the loop. Think of him as a product guy, not a process guy.
So, LED backlights are coming to our displays. LED backlights are a great product and green, but in a relatively small way. The big fluorescent tubes in our workplace are the real issue because some contain mercury. While the tiny CCFL tubes in current LCD backlights may contain mercury, the amounts are minute, but good riddance to any toxic waste. To my surprise, LED efficiency has improved to the point that they are about 12% more efficient than CCFL tubes when used as a backlight.¬†This was not the case a few years ago. Why do I think they are better? Efficiency translates to longer battery life or smaller batteries. LEDs are trivial to dim compared to CCFLs. CCFL’s change color when they dim unlike LEDs. And, I am sure you have noticed that your LCD screen’s brightness falls off with age. LEDs promise longer life with little fall off in brightness. They are worth the money because they make your screen a better screen and more to the point, they make it better longer. Apple computers are reputed to stay in use longer than PCs, keeping them out of the waste stream and at work that much longer.
I think Apple did a significant amount of good when it helped lead the industry away from CRT monitors. Filled with toxic materials, they take a lot of energy to make, to run, as well as ship and introduced a significant volume of toxins and non recyclable material into the waste stream. They even emitted radiation at the user as an added bonus.
There is a lot of hype surrounding sustainability. The question here is whether Apple will follow through in a systematic way to reshape the way it does business. This is more process than product. There is a dark side to outsourcing in countries where there are little or no protections for the environment or even basic human rights for that matter. People will pay for better and greener technology like LED backlighting, but it is tough to tell your suppliers to do the right thing and then pass the costs on to the customer. It is clear that this has generated a lot of positive press and even a reactive Apple stands to win big with such an initiative. Steve may have shown little interest until now, but this is a hot button issue for Apple customers and he gets it. It appears that the Apple, Inc. settlement with the Beatles included the green logo from Apple Records.


Greenpeace has been putting pressure on Apple to go green for years and it appears to have finally born fruit. In a recent letter, Steve Jobs said that he was surprised to find out how much Apple was doing and that he was delighted to learn how far along Apple is in dealing with these issues. He is a very hands on guy, but this makes it seem as if he has been out of the loop. Think of him as a product guy, not a process guy.
So, LED backlights are coming to our displays. LED backlights are a great product and green, but in a relatively small way. The big fluorescent tubes in our workplace are the real issue because some contain mercury. While the tiny CCFL tubes in current LCD backlights may contain mercury, the amounts are minute, but good riddance to any toxic waste. To my surprise, LED efficiency has improved to the point that they are about 12% more efficient than CCFL tubes when used as a backlight.¬†This was not the case a few years ago. Why do I think they are better? Efficiency translates to longer battery life or smaller batteries. LEDs are trivial to dim compared to CCFLs. CCFL’s change color when they dim unlike LEDs. And, I am sure you have noticed that your LCD screen’s brightness falls off with age. LEDs promise longer life with little fall off in brightness. They are worth the money because they make your screen a better screen and more to the point, they make it better longer. Apple computers are reputed to stay in use longer than PCs, keeping them out of the waste stream and at work that much longer.
I think Apple did a significant amount of good when it helped lead the industry away from CRT monitors. Filled with toxic materials, they take a lot of energy to make, to run, as well as ship and introduced a significant volume of toxins and non recyclable material into the waste stream. They even emitted radiation at the user as an added bonus.
There is a lot of hype surrounding sustainability. The question here is whether Apple will follow through in a systematic way to reshape the way it does business. This is more process than product. There is a dark side to outsourcing in countries where there are little or no protections for the environment or even basic human rights for that matter. People will pay for better and greener technology like LED backlighting, but it is tough to tell your suppliers to do the right thing and then pass the costs on to the customer. It is clear that this has generated a lot of positive press and even a reactive Apple stands to win big with such an initiative. Steve may have shown little interest until now, but this is a hot button issue for Apple customers and he gets it. It appears that the Apple, Inc. settlement with the Beatles included the green logo from Apple Records.

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