Apple & Jobs come clean, go iGreen

Steve Jobs has a new product plan on his mind – iGreen. In a pretty obvious response to Greenpeace’s brutally low “green rating” of Apple’s use of chemicals and its recycling methods, Steve Jobs blogged about the steps Apple has taken, and will take, to be friendlier on the environment.

Considering Apple’s obsessive control over its brand, it’s not hard to see why Jobs is rushing to collect in on some green goodwill.

Jobs’ post is the latest in a booming trend of tech companies -– Google, Yahoo, H-P, IBM — pushing eco practices, like reducing their carbon footprints, boosting recycling programs, and adding energy efficiencies. Like Job’s writing on DRM and music helped bring that topic to the forefront, this latest note will bring needed attention to new environmentally sound business practices. And while this announcement might look as much like marketing as anything else, a little hype mixed in with helping the environment isn’t so bad.

Much of Job’s post is a point by point argument defending Apple’s eco-side, by pointing out things like the company’s elimination of lead-containing cathode ray tube displays. He even needles that Dell, Gateway, HP and Lenovo are still shipping these displays. But a good section of the article is also a pledge for new practices, like promising to introduce displays using arsenic-free glass this year, and eliminating the use of arsenic in all displays by the end of 2008.

In response to Job’s post, Greenpeace has upgraded Apple’s rating from 2.7 to 5 out of 10. Though they still say “It’s not everything we asked for.”

What the post makes obvious is that touting your earth-friendly accomplishments is starting to become a necessary part of a company’s branding. ‘Greening’ has gone full frenzy in the wake of Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth and the generation that is in high school and college now are coming of age with these ideals.

From a purely business perspective smart tech brands will have to evolve to survive and keep the next generation of consumers happy. And from a planet perspective, there’s overwhelming evidence that the business world needs to do its best to reverse environmentally harmful practices.

From Job’s post it seems like Apple has taken decent action to eliminate chemicals and recycle, just a relatively crappy job of communicating it.

Job’s writes:

Today is the first time we have openly discussed our plans to become a greener Apple. It will not be the last. . . . We apologize for leaving you in the dark for this long.

Hopefully Job’s post will shed some light on this issue for the rest of the tech industry as well.