Thursday, April 8, 2010

The real cost of an Ipod.

Apple products have short life spans, what is newest does not remain so for long, they become fashionably obsolete. fast. Smaller Apple products such as Ipods also damage easily and the company gives the customer no incentive to retain and repair older products, repair of an old item is often equivalent to the cost of purchasing a new one. (green peace)

What is Apple doing to take responsibility for it’s environmental impact?
At first glance Apple’s environmental statement seems to lay it all out there. They breakdown and proudly display the different contributions to their environmental impact.

…Oh, except they neglect to include the impact of old products going into land fill. Yes they have a recycling program, but it is nowhere near 100% of old products that are recycled correctly.

Recycling figures for years past:
These figures are based on the weight of products recycled that year as a percentage of the weight of products sold seven years previous. This is based on a model by Dell where the average life of electronics is estimated at 7 years.

Before 2008 Apple products commonly contained some nasty chemicals; including Mercury, Arsenic, Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs). Although the company has now fased the use of these out older products containing these chemicals still exist and cause serious problems when the products are incorrectly disposed of, as Kathy Kiwala of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s Electronics Recycling Program tells The Portland Tribune, “BFRs and PVC are turning up in everything from bird eggs to human tissue… We can’t expect to throw something out there and have it not impact everything around it,” (full article found here).

We will be paying a great price in the long term for what are purely luxury items. The ipod serves no required function and exists only for pleasure.

While the fazing out the harmful chemicals and introduction of their take back recycling program are positive steps and should not be belittled they are just starting steps on a path to an environmentally friendly company. The core of the Apple problem remains their casual attitude to short life spans in their goods and encouraging mass consumerism.

further reading:

iposion+iwaste by greenpeace

Don’t toss that old iPod in the trash
Tasty news from Apple! at greenpeace.com
Apple and the environment at apple.com
Why BFRs and PVC should be phased out of electronic devices by greenpeace

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