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Apple Computer gets failing grade on toxic chemicals, e-waste recycling

Friday, May 25, 2007 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: e-waste, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) Apple Inc. has been ranked worst among 14 leading electronics manufacturers in a new Greenpeace survey that evaluated companies based on their use of toxic chemicals and commitment to recycling obsolete products.

Toxic waste arising from the manufacture and disposal of consumer electronics -- particularly cell phones, personal computers and similar products -- has become a major problem globally, and an increasing concern for environmentalists. In addition to toxins released during manufacture, many electronics are made with heavy metals or other dangerous substances. This means that the large volume of electronic waste finding its way into landfills each year -- tens of millions of tons -- has become a major health and ecological threat.

Much of this waste, which comes primarily from the First World, is shipped to countries such as China and India. In many cases, children or other laborers break it up to recover the scrap.

The "Guide to Greener Electronics" ranked companies based on the progress they have made in phasing out dangerous ingredients and enabling the recycling rather than landfilling their products. Chinese computer manufacturer Lenovo came in first with a score of eight out of 10, in large part for its commitment to take back and recycle its products in any country. Lenovo's top ranking is particularly notable when compared with its ranking last year -- last place.

That spot is now filled by Apple, which scored just 2.7 out of a possible 10 points.

"Apple has made no changes to its policies or practices since the launch of the Guide in August 2006," Greenpeace said. "The company scores badly on almost all criteria."

In particular, Greenpeace has criticized the company for a limited and difficult-to-use recycling policy and vague, unconvincing timelines on the phase-out of brominated flame-retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

In addition to Lenovo, Greenpeace gave Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Dell, Samsung, Motorola, Fujitsu-Siemens, HP and ACER above-average scores. Toshiba, Sony, LG and Panasonic all received less than five points each.

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