NCPPR Accuses Apple of Greenwashing and Tim Cook of Faking Anger

| Analysis

The National Center for Public Policy Research has doubled down on its criticism of Apple's sustainability programs. In a blog post, NCPPR CEO Amy Ridenour suggested that Apple is "greenwashing" itself, or faking its commitment to sustainability, and she suggested that Apple CEO Tim Cook may have even faked his outrage and anger during Apple's annual shareholder report last Friday.

Apple Green Washing?

Is Apple Greenwashing? Please...

Let me say right up front that Ms. Ridenour is wrong about Mr. Cook's reaction. As the guy who started the worldwide attention on Mr. Cook's angry response, I am supremely confident in my read on Mr. Cook and positive that for the first—and probably last—time, we saw an angry Tim Cook in semi-public.

Ms. Ridenour didn't offer any evidence that Mr. Cook was faking the whole thing, saying simple, "We wonder if Mr. Cook's outrage was feigned." Again, it wasn't, but she did offer a reason why he might have done so, saying:

Tim Cook didn't get paid some $40 million in 2013 because he's an environmentalist, but he is more valuable to Apple when he plays one on TV. As such, Tim Cook's statement may simply have been public relations. He looked nice and green, standing there, indignant that someone might think one of the world's most successful companies should focus on... business success.

So...Apple CEO Tim Cook, head of the world's most profitable technology company, is worth more to Apple when he's pretending to be an environmentalist. Ms. Ridenour doesn't explain how exactly this works, but she did trot out a series of straw men and false equivalencies that might make anyone who didn't actually consider her words believe that Apple is just faking the whole "green" thing.

For instance:

What constitutes a "green" company is subjective, but it is hard to imagine that Apple qualifies. Minimalist packaging is a big priority within the sustainability movement. Apple's packaging is beautiful, but not minimalist.

This one is kind of weird, because Apple revolutionized PC packaging. Remember how PCs, or even an Apple Mac before Steve Jobs came back to Apple, were packaged. Multiple boxes within a large box, and sometimes, even two large boxes. Apple's packaging is the definition of minimalist in the world of technology.

In its environmental footprint, Apple even makes the financial case for reducing packaging, as summarized in this image:

Apple Figure

Source: Apple

This is part of what Tim Cook meant when he said that sustainability is good for the bottom line, and it's likely part of why Apple has received praise from the hard-to-please Greenpeace.

Image made with help from Shutterstock.

The article continues with the NCPPR questioning Apple's environmental bona fides.

Comments

Tulse

So to summarize, this group complained at the shareholder meeting that Apple puts the environment ahead of profits, and now complains that Apple is really putting profits ahead of the environment.

Well OK then…

daemon

Iunno, pointing to packaging reduction just doesn’t seem like the sustainability that most people would want. I think what most are looking for is a reduction in use of rare earth elements and a reduction of poisonous compounds used in manufacturing. Displays that don’t use mercury. Sourcing more materials from recycled components of the phone itself and not just it’s packaging.

Granted probably the first thing that any Apple enthusiast should do is not to buy a new iPhone every year. Perhaps keep the same iPhone for 5+ years, and when you do upgrade, look for a good used one instead of buying new.

geoduck

Can’t the rest of Apple shareholders introduced a motion at the next annual shareholder meeting demanding that NCPPR get out of the stock? I’d love to see THAT motion get 90-95% support.

 

geoduck

daemon
Actually one of the things Apple is getting kudos for is reducing toxic materials in their products
http://www.apple.com/ca/environment/our-footprint/
http://greenconduct.com/blog/2011/10/11/under-steve-jobs-leadership-apple-removed-toxic-chemicals-from-its-products/
http://arstechnica.com/apple/2012/10/chemical-analysis-iphone-5-4s-are-apples-greenest-smartphones-yet/
As you can see from the link on the Apple site their products are not only Mercury free, but Ldad, PVC, BFR, and Arsnic free as well.

Apple is also setting up a program to make sure any rare earth elements don’t come from conflict areas.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/apple-to-track-suppliers-sourcing-of-conflict-minerals-1.2535784

They are in fact leading the industry in environmental responsibility.

MacFrogger

Oh boy - here we go again!  wink

Bryan: All good points, and well-argued. But I can’t help but be reminded by that classic saying: “I will not engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent!”  Logic on these people doesn’t work.  Their minds are closed - they already have all the answers. 

You know what I think of this org - but I won’t repeat it out of respect for you and TMO.  Remember that to them there is no such thing as bad publicity.  Only no publicity is what’s bad.  In that respect, you play into their strategic plan.  Though of course there is “upside” for TMO as well…

craigf

What’s next for these jerks? Are they going to start picketing funerals and carrying signs that say “God hates Macs”?

They are clearly using Apple to promote their lame asses. Unless you want to hear lots more from them it is best to avoid giving them any attention at all.

BurmaYank

Bryan, I think all your counterpoints to Ridenour’s phony allegations are dead-on-target, articulate, & fairly witty. Now that your take on Tim’s response is getting quoted, what you think about Ridenour’s atrocious attempted riposte may therefore also circulate, if this remains a popular topic. If so, Ridenour might well feel she should respond to the woundings you’ve inflicted upon her “arguments”.  I would love to witness that encounter between you.

RonMacGuy

Granted probably the first thing that any Apple enthusiast should do is not to buy a new iPhone every year. Perhaps keep the same iPhone for 5+ years, and when you do upgrade, look for a good used one instead of buying new.

Hmm, likewise you could say that any samdung enthusiast should do is not to buy a new samdung phone/television every year, and to perhaps keep the same phone/TV for 5+ years, …  Or sports car enthusiasts should not buy a new sports car every few years, but keep theirs for 10+ years…  But, this is not the American way.  Everyone has to have something new right now, whether they can afford it or not.  Just borrow money regardless of interest rate, or better yet just put it on one of your 7 credit cards that you are making minimum payments on.  And after buying that new shiny item, stop by a fast food joint or better yet a nice restaurant and stuff yourself full of junk, and fattening up your kids for a nice unhealthy future. Hey, we are all guilty of this to some extent.  But, that’s an entirely different problem to solve.

Regardless, I know Apple has been much more environmentally focused than a lot of other companies out there for a long time.  It’s not the reason I buy Apple products, but it is nice to know that the primarily glass and aluminum iDevices is obviously much more recyclable than the plastic garbage that makes up a lot of Apple’s competition.  And, as I buy my shiny new Apple products, there is a nice market for my not-so-shiny-but-still-in-excellent-shape Apple products, where I make a LOT more on eBay than I would with non-Apple products of the same age/condition.

I’m also glad that Tim Cook is still in charge of Apple - there were predictions that he would not last very long, and I am glad those predictions have not come true.  Tim is crucial to the future of Apple, and I am glad that both he and Jony are sticking around for the foreseeable future…

 

daemon

Hmm, likewise you could say that any samdung enthusiast should do is not to buy a new samdung phone/television every year

I’ve never heard of samdung, much less anyone buying a single phone/television from samdung…

Lee Dronick

  Granted probably the first thing that any Apple enthusiast should do is not to buy a new iPhone every year. Perhaps keep the same iPhone for 5+ years, and when you do upgrade, look for a good used one instead of buying new.

And here I am seriously considering getting the battery replaced in my iPhone 4s. It is no longer holding a charge as long as it did. I know that is normal, but it is dropping off rapidly. Another option is an external battery or battery case the price of which is on par with replacing the internal battery, about $80. I no longer have the touch to replace it myself.

MacFrogger

Humbly quoting himself (MacFrogger): “Remember that to them [NCPPR] there is no such thing as bad publicity.  Only no publicity is what’s bad.  In that respect, you play into their strategic plan.”

In fact, in the same NCPPR blog piece that Bryan so effectively rebuts, Ms Ridenour seems to brag about all of the media attention her Apple stunt garnered for her bogus org:  “...but with something like a thousand news media articles out there getting the story either wrong or incomplete, I don’t want to leave our story untold.”

Shortly after her blog piece, in fact, Faux News’ Neil Cavuto dutifully took the bait and invited the clown who actually accosted Mr Cook on to his TV show in order to amplify the noise - and give the POV of this bogus org an even bigger audience.  And who knows how many legitimate news outlets - and illegitimate ones too (like Faux) - felt compelled to write follow-up articles to the initial “thousand stories” out of a sense of “fairness” to NCPPR because they felt like they may have gotten the story “wrong or incomplete?”  (Ms Ridenour knows how to parlay the media’s desire to be fair to her advantage in order to generate additional media.  Hmmm…like this one??)

Now here is what bothers me - I respect Bryan, this blog, and of course the commenters who keep it honest and lively.  But I’d hate to see it become, unwittingly perhaps, an instrument of the right wing noise machine.  Because while I doubt it was Bryan’s intent, right up there in the second paragraph of this piece he says: “As the guy who started the worldwide attention on Mr. Cook’s angry response…”  Food for thought - I’m with you craigf!

RonMacGuy

I’ve never heard of samdung, much less anyone buying a single phone/television from sanding…

My apologies, daemon.  My play on words took the word/company ‘samsung’ and, based on it’s illegal and unethical business practices, which I absolutely detest, changed it to ‘samdung’ in order to liken the company to a pile of ‘dung’ (defined as ‘excrement, especially of animals; manure’).  Petty and immature of me?  Well, yes, probably.  Hey, nobody’s perfect!!  By the way, I also tend to not capitalize samsung, google, or android, in yet another way that I like to belittle them.  Again, immature I know, especially for a 45 year old.

Lee, my wife’s 4S battery is also dropping off rapidly, probably helped along by iOS 7 resource requirements.  In fact, since upgrading to iOS 7, my iPhone 5 seems to not last as long in the battery department.  I have not attempted to replace either battery myself, but I suspect you could probably still do it!!

Lee Dronick

Ron, I am getting some arthritis and don’t want to mess with something that small. If I have a shop do it and they mess it up then they will have to make it good.

My old iPhone 3G is still in service as an alarm clock and iTunes player. I keep it on the nightstand.

RonMacGuy

I understand, Lee.

My first iPhone, a Verizon iPhone 4 when Verizon first got the iPhone, is also still in service as an iPod touch for my nephew. No cell service, but plenty of storage space and still decent battery life.

FlipFriddle

Perhaps Tim should buy their lobbyists.

BurmaYank

@FlipFriddle:
I would guess that their lobbyists are much more valuable to Apple as patheticly incompetent enemies, than they would be as Apple’s (still incompetent) pawns.

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