Shareholders Want a Greener Apple

Apr 28, 2007

In a filing with the SEC, a group of investors asks Apple to adopt better environmental standards for the manufacturing of the Mac.

A group of investors is looking for Apple to be a little greener.

In a letter sent to fellow shareholders April 26, Shelley Alpern, vice president of Trillium Asset Management, in Boston, is urging Apple to adopt greener policies in the manufacturing of its Macintosh line and other products.

"Apple has been at the forefront of many technology trends, not the least of which has been the very notion of getting people to 'think different,'" Alpern wrote in the letter, which is on file with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

"Yet one place where the management has failed to lead is on the issue of toxic chemicals in our products," Alpern wrote. "The proposal simply asks the management to assess the feasibility of new policies to eliminate the worst of the toxic chemicals - those that may threaten workers, the public and the environment."

The environmental group Greenpeace targeted Apple recently, accusing the company of not eliminating harmful chemical in the manufacturing of its products, including the Mac.

In its ranking, Greenpeace found that other PC vendors, such as Dell and Lenovo, have done a better job at eliminating the use of toxic chemicals. In public statements, Apple executives have disputed some of Greenpeace's assertions.

In his letter to other shareholders, Alpern is asking Apple executives to prepare a report within six moths of the May 10 shareholders meeting that details what the company will do reduce and then eliminate the use of brominated flame retardants and polyvinyl chloride in its manufacturing processes.

The letter indicates that Apple needs to address environmental issues in order to retain its share of the market.

"When electronic products become obsolete, they are often shipped to China, Africa,Latin America and other developing regions, where efforts to reclaim valuable metals create environmental and health problems as more toxins are released into the air, water and ground," Alpern wrote. "To maintain our market edge, we need to ensure that our products are no longer adding to that pollution load."

Despite environmental concerns, Apple's profits have continued to soar thanks to the performance and sales of its iPod music players and the Mac, along with the anticipation of new products such as the iPhone.

On April 25, Apple released its second-quarter financial numbers, which showed the company's net income hit $770 million with revenues of $5.17 billion. At the same time, Apple's board released a statement in support of CEO Steve Jobs in the face of charges from the SEC against two former company executives accused of backdating stock options.

In the wake of the SEC charges, former Chief Financial Officer Fred Anderson accused Jobs of knowing more about the backdating problems than the company had acknowledged.

In the letter, Apple's board wrote: "Steve Jobs cooperated fully with Apple's independent investigation and with the government's investigation of stock option grants at Apple … We have complete confidence in the conclusions of Apple's independent investigation, and in Steve's integrity and his ability to lead Apple."

Copyright 2007 by Ziff Davis Media, Distributed by United Press International

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