Obituary for the Quiet Green Guy, Steve Jobs

Obituary for the Quiet Green Guy, Steve Jobs
Rest In Peace

Steve Jobs left this reality and hopefully is gone on to a bigger and better one.  What most of us  planet bound don’t know about the guru of technology was his stance on environmental stewardship.  Jobs was very into sustainability.  That and the fact that I love Apple products have made him my hero and I along with millions of others mourn his departure.

There was hoopla about the Apple board not wanting to participate in The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Reporting Guidelines (what a mouthful!).  According to the GRI website, the reporting framework sets out the principles and performance Indicators that organizations can use to measure and report their economic, environmental, and social performance. The foundation of the GRI is the set of guidelines known as G3.  Why oh why would the Apple Board of Directors not want to be a part of this?  HP, IBM and Dell all jumped in.  Apple was already leaps ahead of the others in the commitment to sustainability.  Apple had transparency through its environmental information on their website.
Shareholders commented the reporting process might leave sensitive materials about products at risk.  People speculated that Apple just wasn’t interested in increasing the paper pushing or in comparing Apple to other companies.

Steve Jobs and Apple products received excellent marks from Green Peace.  In the Guide to Greener Electronics the publication stated.

Apple does best on the toxic chemicals criteria, where it scores most of its points. All Apple products are now free of PVC vinyl plastic and brominated flame retardants (BFRs), with the exception of PVC-free power cords in countries where their safety certification process is still ongoing. For this Apple continues to score full marks (doubled). Apple scores points for its chemicals policy informed by the precautionary principle and for lobbying the EU institutions for a ban on PVC, chlorinated flame retardants and BFRs during the current revision of the EU’s RoHS Directive (Restriction of Hazardous Substances in electronics)….

The praise from Green Peace didn’t rate Apple the best in show but the reason for not getting a triple A rating was that Steve Jobs or Apple did not come out with a public policy in support for immediate restrictions in RoHS 2.0 (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) on organo-chlorine (nasty stuff like DDT pesticide) and bromine compounds. Sounds like Apple was walking the sustainable walk not just talking the green talk but got points deducted for non-bragging.

Jobs refused to purchase conflict elements.  Perhaps this statement needs a bit of background.   Elements like copper, tungsten, neodymium, dysprosium, terbium, and coltan are “conflict” labeled.  They are found in abundance in conflict zones like the Democratic Republic of Congo, particularly along the eastern border with Rwanda. Sixty-four percent of the world’s reserves of coltan are found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Without coltan the digital age economy would grind to a halt.  Coltan mining has financed continuing terror in the region.  The University of Michigan reported that in 2001 more than 10,000 men, women, and children moved to mining camps in Kahuzi Biega National Park in an attempt to make a living wage.  The mining has created untold environmental damage to the area surrounding the national park.  The human rights costs have been astronomical. Children have been forced into dirty and dangerous work. Families with hopes of becoming wealthy by working the mines have been poorly paid while the industrial, giant, western electronics industry has grown fat. Steve Jobs, to his credit, refused to purchase materials from conflict zones.   That decision didn’t lessen profitability and it certainly didn’t go unnoticed by the sustainably conscious.

Enough!,The project to end genocide and crimes against humanity (http://bit.ly/cWBIlk) has an excellent article explaining how the newly signed by Obama, Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act impacts conflict material purchasing by companies. It could be argued that Apple didn’t lead the way in its decision to avoid conflict purchases but it was certainly ahead of the enforcement of the bill which will not begin until 2012.

 

So, as far as this writer is concerned Steve Jobs will remain the quiet champion of the environment.  Rest in peace, sweet prince.

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