“Apple is not making early progress toward its 2008 commitment to phase out all uses of these materials, even in entirely new product lines,” Greenpeace said in a report published Monday.
The group said the iPhone contains chlorinated plastic polyvinyl chloride and “brominated flame retardants” that can be harmful to the environment.
“The phthalates found in the headphone cords are classified in Europe as ‘?toxic to reproduction’ because of their long-recognized ability to interfere with sexual development,” Greenpeace scientist David Santillo said in the report. With this bit of the report in mind, a Red Herring headline read, “Can iPhones Make You Sterile?”
Greenpeace acknowledged, however, that the iPhone does comply with European rules prohibiting the use of other chemicals or metals in certain products, including lead, cadmium, mercury, and chromium.
Apple has shot back. “Like all Apple products worldwide, iPhone complies with RoHS [Restriction of Hazardous Substances], the world’s toughest restrictions on toxic substances in electronics,” an Apple spokesperson, told Macworld. “As we have said, Apple will voluntarily eliminate the use of PVC and BFRs by the end of 2008.”
The report could become a public relations nightmare for Apple (see Red Herring headline above), which has touted its commitment to green technologies on a special page on its Web site called “A Greener Apple.”
Apple created the page in May to announce new environmental initiatives after it ranked dead last in Greenpeace’s green list. The report of top electronic manufacturers is based on the recycling and toxic content policies of the companies and is intended to pressure them to reduce electronic waste, a technique which, presumably, worked on Apple.
In addition to the PR fallout, The Center for Environmental Health gave Apple notice that the group intends to sue Apple over the findings in the Greenpeace report, CRN reports. The center said it will file the lawsuit unless Apple “enters into a binding written aggreements to 1. recall products already sold; 2. provide clear and reasonable warnings for products sold in the future or reformulate such products to eliminate the (chemical) exposures; and 3. pay an appropriate civil penalty based on the factors enumerated in the California Health and Safety Code.”