Apple Grilled on Green Issues by Shareholders

CEO Steve Jobs snickers at sustainability reporting

By Jackson West
|  Friday, Feb 26, 2010  |  Updated 1:30 PM PDT
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Apple Grilled on Green Issues by Shareholders

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Steve Jobs got some sassback from environmentalist investors at Apple's annual shareholder meeting.

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In the last few years, Apple has come under fire from environmentalist groups over everything from electronics waste to the total carbon footprint of devices -- which many customers replace every couple of years.

In 2006, Greenpeace went on a crusade against technology companies, upsetting many a token environmentalist consumer who thinks saving the planet is about buying products and had no idea that obsolete iPod they just replaced is basically toxic waste.

One of the tactics activists use is to buy some shares in a company so that they can attend shareholder meetings and get their two cents in. This year, nearly a third of Apple's meeting was about environmental issues, and even included exchanges with mercurial CEO Steve Jobs.

Jobs was asked why the company doesn't produce sustainability reports like many of its competitors. He said "we don't trumpet" how green they apparently really are, though the company did recently announce that it was leaving the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of the organization's climate change skepticism.

The company was also taken to task for presenting information on estimated carbon emissions over a product's life cycle, because it doesn't reveal its methodology and there is no standard so that customers can compare Apple's estimates to those of its competitors.

Jobs said Apple is leading the pack on some issues, however, Apple ranked 25th, behind Microsoft, IBM, Dell and Hewlett-Packard in Newsweek's 2009 Green Rankings report.

Jackson West thinks Apple could make it easier to repair and not just replace things like iPods and iPhones.

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