Apple iTunes

Apple iTunes

Apple iTunes
When I began writing the Apple and the Media series, I expected to find lots of examples of companies, individuals, and journalists suing Apple or otherwise using the company’s name for a free ride.
I didn’t expect to uncover a conspiracy of greed, blackmail, protection money, and other mob tactics hiding under the sheep’s clothing of environmentalism.
Pay for Rank
Are certain environmental groups adopting the Overture / Google Paid Search business model? First hand reports from Apple employees say the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition approached Steve Jobs asking for money shortly after staging its first MacWorld demonstration against Apple.
Job reportedly ended the discussion immediately. Does paying off the SVTC protect companies from the wrath of its publicity stunts? The SVTC talks about environmental goals, but doesn’t support their conspicuous rage against Apple with facts. What kind of green are they really after?
Of the thousands of tech companies that ring the toxic San Francisco bay in the Silicon Valley Toxic Coalition’s backyard, only Apple showed up repeatedly in their list of attack PR stunts throughout the year.
Apple’s Environmental Standing
Apple provides some facts about their environmental standing on their own website. We don’t have to take their word for it though.
The Sierra Club recommended Apple Computer to investors in their top ten 2006 Forward Green Leaders list, due to “excellence in their environmental efforts.”
Stephen Russell, a materials consultant to the IT sector, reports that “Apple has had for many years, by far the strictest eco-material specification in the industry, bar none.”
“I know this because I've worked for numerous material suppliers who continually moan at Apple for tying their hands with obsessively strict requirements that go years ahead of regulatory bans. Greenpeace's gripe is that Apple doesn't publish their specification, but everybody knows that Apple has to keep its design related specifications hush, hush... that's why Apple maintains its leading position as an innovator for the industry and has such fantastic material efficient product designs.”
Two Sides of the Same Coin
If Apple is recognized as a leader in green computing by environmentalists, why are they singled out for punishment by the SVTC and Greenpeace?
It is interesting to note that Iza Kruszewska, the Greenpeace "toxics campaigner" who felt it necessary to include a quote about being “disappointed” that the group specifically had to rate Apple "so low in the overall guide" was associated with the SVTC.
The Greenpeace Report singled out earlier as misleading and incompetent was not the product of a worldwide collaboration of environmentalists, but rather just written by the same staffers who keep busy pushing out a non-stop series of press releases critical of Apple and even personally targeting Steve Jobs.
Ready for more facts dismantling to the SVTC/Greenpeace report?
Get the Lead Out
“Out of all the IT companies listed in the ranking, Russell explained, “Apple is the only company to be RoHS compliant worldwide across its major IT product lines, and is the only company to have come up with clean wireless (PVC-free) applications across all of its products, and is the only company that has ceased shipping CRT monitors altogether.”
Apple’ aggressive abandonment of CRT displays “saves approximately 2.2 pounds of lead per display,” according to Apple’s website.  In addition to the use of CRT monitors, Dell and HP are still shipping other non-RoHS compliant, lead containing products in the US.
For example, Forbes reported that HP “declared itself in compliance with RoHS regulations for all of its products sold in the EU, with a stated goal to be globally compliant by the end of this year.” Is that an A for effort?
How Green is Nokia?
Russell added that Nokia, while given top billing in the Greenpeace report, reports in its substance list that it only “monitors” PVC use, rather than actually banning or even restricting its use.
Further, Russell pointed out that “Nokia even exempts accessories from a PVC phase out. Accessories are where the greatest quantities of PVC tend to be found. Greenpeace's ranking calls this "Good." Whatever the Nokia boys told Greenpeace is not what Nokia is telling us in the supply-chain through its substance specification.”

“Nokia was once the largest distributor of CRT containing TV's, before their cell phone days. They still refuse to take-back these heavy lead-containing TV products. They do a great job on cell phones, but that's only because it is profitable for them to do so, hence them conveniently forgetting about their TV history.”
So while the takeback campaign cited Apple for having no system in place for finding and recycling old Apple II computers, the equipment sold by Nokia and others is given a free pass. Double standard, or simply a case of using Apple’s name to sell a story?
HP, meet Erin Brokovitch
Hexavalent chromium was widely used as a flame retardant in manufacturing, but it’s also a cancer-causing substance that became famous as for its role as a villain the movie Erin Brockovich.
Apple has banned its use, and is fully compliant with the European RoHS restrictions on hexavalent chromium.
In contrast, Russell reports that “HP used its lobbying machinery last April to persuade the EU Commission to allow an additional exemption to the RoHS ban on hexavalent chromium. The Commission caved-in... so now we have to put up with toxicity of hexachrome as a result of HP who are now ‘Greenpeace's leading example of environmental proactivity’”
A copy of HP’s request asking for exemption from the RoHS ban on hexavalent chromium is available here.
Dell in a (Toxic) Handbasket
SVTC/Greenpeace handed out a lot of points for having goals. While it’s good to have goals, some are rather weak.
“Dell gets top marks for committing to phase out PVC and TBBA (a flame retardant) by 2009 if it is cost effective for them to do so.” Russell said. “Big deal, Dell may not even be around by 2009 and if it's cost effective to use the alternative materials then of course everyone will use them, so what's so great about that commitment?”
Don’t Say A Word
Despite the facts, the shoddy SVTC/Greenpeace report, along with grandstanding by the SVTC, has created an impression that Apple is behind the curve on their environmental efforts, when just the opposite is true.
However, a number of websites refused to carry the story. Was it too controversial, or did they consider it simply impolite to call Greenpeace and the SVTC on their incompetent and misleading campaigns?
The Busy Blogger
BoingBoing blogger Cory Doctorow couldn’t fit the Greenpeace scandal story into his blog schedule because he was too busy lambasting Apple for the “dramatic failure” of the iTunes Music Store paradigm.
The most important issue of the day for Doctorow was Apple’s downloadable version of new Bob Dylan album.
“Be prepared to lose four of the tracks when you burn it to CD,” he warned, comparing the iTMS album download against the CD version, which was advertised by Amazon as having 14 tracks.
“Remember the outcry when Edgar Bronfman, Jr threatened to raise the cost of some iTunes songs and lower the cost of others? Here we have a similar kind of differential pricing sneaking in via the back-door.”
Doctorow, an incessant whiner about free pop entertainment, suggested readers should take their business to a Russian mafia web download site that offers cheap downloads by bypassing the middle man, the studios, and even the artist, to profit directly from the consumer.
It turned out that his expose of the iTMS was in error; Amazon was selling the same ten tracks, they just listed it as having 14 audio tracks in error. Oops! At least he managed to drop Apple into a derogatory context.
Slashdot also refused to carry the story, and instead posted ‘from the valid-concerns-falling-on-deaf-ears dept.,’ an article clumsily titled “Information Security and Ignorant Management?” Remember when Slashdot was smart?
This Series
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More Secrets: The Scandal of Green Computing
Wednesday, September 6, 2006
Apple iTunes

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