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Apple products announced today: It's easier being green

Robert Palmer

Apple made a concerted effort today to highlight the reduced impact its new products have on the environment.

This effort all started with Steve Jobs' open letter in 2007, A Greener Apple, announcing a long-term plan to "protect the environment and make our business more sustainable." The letter was released partly in response to a Greenpeace campaign, encouraging Apple to reduce the amount of toxic chemicals in its products and improve its recycling programs.

Today, the star of the show was Apple's new "unibody," a single, complex chassis for new MacBook and MacBook Pro units fabricated from a single brick of aluminum. In a video posted on its website, Apple noted that as a result of the new fabrication process, fewer parts in the laptop means a reduction in weight, size, and the amount of other material necessary to hold the device together.

Put together with reductions in packaging size, the shipping and stocking process becomes more efficient. Smaller shipping cartons mean more cartons per palette, which means more units per shipment. This reduces the per-unit cost of shipment in both dollars and carbon.

New MacBooks are not only Energy Star certified, but received a gold rating from the Electronic Product Environmental Assesment Tool (or EPEAT). Apple joins 37 other laptops with gold EPEAT ratings from Toshiba, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and others.

As we all know from saving up our soda cans, aluminum is highly recyclable, along with many of the other parts in Apple's new notebooks. According to Apple, they recycle 28 percent of their products sold.The new aluminum unibody is no exception.

All this points to a smaller carbon footprint for our favorite fruit company. Apple hasn't specified how much smaller its carbon footprint is, in aggregate, instead releasing information on a product-by-product basis. Apple's environmental reports cover many of its products, facilities, and suppliers.

Add this to small steps like using tapioca for its packing materials, and avoiding more mailings like this one, and Apple will be leading us and other computer manufacturers to a greener future.

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