Apple recently rolled out its newest addition to the family of notebooks, Macbook Air. With a bold claim of being “The World’s Greenest Family of Notebooks,” it is definitely lighter, less toxic and more energy efficient than the previous generations. However, is it really the greenest laptops in the world? Greenpeace claims otherwise.
Two years ago, Greenpeace challenged Apple and other major computer-manufacturing companies to reduce the use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) which are commonly found in electronics. PVC, made out of carcinogen, can release chlorinated dioxins when they are burn for disposal in landfills. BRFs, on the other hand, releases bromine that are dangerous to human’s health. In response to this challenge, Steve Jobs issued a statement afterwards, pledging to compromise to this environmental cause.
With the release of the Macbook Air this year, Greenpeace critiques that the steps made in Apple’s new computer are not enough for them. According to the legislative director of Greenpeace’s “toxic campaign,” “Apple is getting greener, but not green enough, […] The Macbook Air has less toxic PVC plastic and less toxic BFRs, but it could have zero and that would make Apple an eco-leader, […]
To evaluate the greenness of Macbook Air, let’s look at five things: Total carbon footprint, manufacturing progress, gas emission from transportation, recycling potential and commitment to progress.
Total carbon footprint-
To reduce its emission of greenhouse gasses to the environment, Apple consciously designed the Macbook Air with less material, energy efficiency, transports with smaller packages and as recyclable as possible. While 97% of Apple’s carbon emission comes from manufacturing, transportation, use and recycling their products, only 3% originates from their facilities.
While Apple has not reduced the use of BFRs and PRV to zero in its manufacturing progress, they have lowered the level of bromine and chlorine to 0.09% of the product’s weight.
The packaging for Macbook Air is 53% smaller than the first generation Macbooks. With smaller packages, more Macbook boxes can be fit onto each shipping boats and planes. The fewer boats and planes used results in fewer CO2 emissions.
Made out of recyclable materials such as polycarbonate, aluminum and magnesium, when Macbook Air reaches its end of life, these materials are valuable in that they can be used for an alternate purpose. Apple has also minimized its amount of wastes produced by reducing the use of materials in these new computers.
Commitment to progress-
Although Apple is vague about its future environmental plans, they did say that they are “continually striving to reduce the environmental impact of the work we do and the products we create.” The fact that Apple earned an “Electronic Environmental Assessment Tool” or “EPEAT” gold rating showed that they have progressed a lot from the past.
So, contrary to Greenpace’s claim, is the Macbook Air the greenest lap in the world as? Apple may claim the Macbook Air as the greenest laptop in the world. However, amongst the 113 laptops that have also received EPEAT’s gold rating, it is honestly very hard. The highest-ranked notebook is in fact the Toshiba Portege R500 which received an extra point for ‘energy conservation’ because it has a solar charge.
Though Macbook Air may not be the greenest laptops in the world, it is still truly the most environmentally friendly notebook product that Apple has yet produced.