The EPA rates Apple Computer highest amongst producers of notebook computers, and fairly well compared to producers of desktop computers and LCD displays. ArsTechnica noted Saturday that Apple was given a "Silver" rating in its Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT), and met 17 of 23 "optional points" as set by the EPA. In comparison, Dell was also given a "Silver" rating, but met only 15 optional points (read the ArsTechnica story for a deeper breakdown of Appleis EPA ratings).
This comes in contrast to Greenpeace, an environmental activist non-profit that has cited Apple as being at the bottom of its own list of major electronics manufacturers. Greenpeace has claimed that Apple doesnit disclose all of its regulated materials used in production, and hasnit provided a time table for eliminating toxic polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
For those interested in this issue, it should be noted that other environmental groups have targeted Apple in the past specifically because the company was so high profile. At the same time, the current EPA has a strong history of favoring corporations and turning a blind eye to many polluters. As is the case with any particular issue, the truth is more likely to lie in the middle.
Apple has invested resources into being environmentally responsible, including recycling programs. Its EPA ranking ahead of companies like Dell very likely represents the reality relative to the rest of the industry. The sad truth, though, is that no matter who is better than whom, the business of producing computers is not an environmentally friendly process, and almost all of Appleis production takes place overseas.
Accordingly, have a bag of salt on hand when hearing most reports on this issue.