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The iPhone is Hazardous to the Environment, According to Greenpeace

Illustration for article titled The iPhone is Hazardous to the Environment, According to Greenpeace

Greenpeace has slammed Apple once again on environmental issues, claiming that scientific tests they arranged uncovered hazardous chemicals in the iPhone. I'm sorry, but I have a hard time believing that Apple is the only phone maker that has these toxic chems, considering that the plants that iPhones are built in also make Nokias and Sony Ericsson phones too. Apple doesn't just say "Hey, put this poison in phones"—They're just a high profile target of these treehumping-nazis. At least take the entire industry to task if you're going to do something like this. And require that no Greenpeace workers and volunteers ever use another cellphone again, or any oil in their boats, or any gasoline in their car as they drive to their treehouses. I'm not saying they're wrong, but we're all a part of this, and unless they have a fix, like some hemp circuit boards, I don't want to hear it. [Edited to rant by BLam]

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Analysis revealed that the phone contains toxic brominated compounds (indicating the presence of brominated flame retardants (BFRs)) and hazardous PVC. Of the 18 internal and external components tested, half the samples returned positive for brominated compounds—including the antenna, which amounts to 10 percent of the total weight of the flexible circuit board.

This isn't the first time Greenpeace has been all up in Apple's face about their supposed lack of commitment to becoming a green company. If you recall, Steve Jobs talked of a greener Apple in the past, but Greenpeace wasn't buying it. So is Greenpeace being unrealistic in their desire to make Apple "green to the core," or should Apple do a better job of eliminating these hazardous chemicals in their products? Or should we just forget about the environment, enjoy our gadgets and tell these hippies to stop bumming us out? [Greenpeace - thanks Mike!]

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DISCUSSION

@weatherman:

And your comparison with the Nike/sweatshops issue is laughable.

First, as you say, Nike is not the biggest corporation nor the largest apparel maker, but they certainly was one of the biggest offenders in that they (as you say) were "doing hundreds of millions in sales" with sweatshop products. That's why people went after them. What Greenpeace is doing here is like ignoring Nike and going after Life.Is.Good. just because LIG happens to be popular these days.

Second, the Nike issue was effective because it exposed a dirty industry secret (sweatshops) that the general public was not aware of. The exposé created a public outrage, which pressured not only Nike but other manufacturers into abandoning the practice (although it still goes on).

On the other hand, what does this "exposé" do? The John Q. Public sees this and says "Hey! Apple's got PVC and BFR in their iPhones! Let's protest!" only to find out that Apple's already promised to get rid of PVC and BFR from all their products by the end of 2008, at which point John (or, most Johns, but maybe not you) would be like "Oh...".

Because most Johns are rational enough to understand that it takes time for manufacturers to completely eliminate certain substances from their products. So, no, this is definitely not going to have any effect similar to the Nike situation. The only effects it will have are undeserved media attention on Greenpeace (which is exactly what they wanted) and an unfair damage, regardless of scale, on one corporation that isn't even close to being the largest offender in regards to the toxic substances in question.