iSlab? iSlate? No – iPad!

February 5th, 2010 by Kevin Leave a reply »

After years of speculation Apple finally unveiled their Tablet computer last week. If you own one of their phones your instant reaction was probably “A Dom Jolly iPhone!” And if you follow Star Trek it’ll be immediately recognisable from the captain’s ready room.

My first taste of Apple was with the iPhone, which is what I’m tapping this into at the moment on the train. I’ve since moved over to a MacBook too (that’s a laptop) and it really is a different experience – no more phaffing around with firewalls and anti-virus software, no more waiting endlessly for it to boot up,and even better, no more hanging around for it to shut down – it just works. Anyway, enough of the adverts, what’s this got to do with sustainability?

Well, they’ve sold an awful lot of iPhones (75 million if I remember correctly) and it looks like they might sell a good deal more iPads – I’m sure to be getting one. So what about all the lithium batteries? What about all the shipping from their manufacturing base in China?

To put things into perspective, the battery for an electric car will weigh at least a hundred times more than a complete iPad. And a short browse on their website shows they recycle their products as well as measuring the emissions for the lifetime of their products.

The Environmental Report for the iPad isn’t up yet, but this is the one for the iPhone.

So what do we think? Ecologically sound? Or corporate greenwash?



  1. J-P says:

    For a less greenwashed overview, Greenpeace also do regular roundups of the “green-ness” of tech companies. This puts different makers in context, and suggests that for green reasons alone you’re better off getting a Nokia smartphone than an iPhone, for example, because Apple get a bit of a kicking.

    They do say that every £1 you spend contributes around 1kg to gross UK carbon production on average, so I find it hard to believe from Apples own report that there’s only 24kg of embedded carbon in a block of consumer electronics – among the worst embedded-carbon sinners on average – that will then cost hundreds of pounds. I wonder who did their research.

    My secondhand Nokia smartphone has genuinely changed my life, so I wouldn’t want to be too down on iPad purchasers. I would say wait a while, though, to make a more informed and coolheaded choice, and shop around for a secondhand one.

    • Kevin says:

      That’s a great league table – I wasn’t aware it existed so thanks for pointing it out. I’m not surprised the scandinavians (Nokia and Sony Ericsson) are topping the list and that the americans, even the californians, have some way to go to catch up, but I’m glad Apple is moving up the placings.

      A piece on the Energy Star rating system would be useful I think – the americans get some credit there for at least introducing what appears to be the world standard for rating energy efficiency.

      I’ll take a closer look at the iPad’s embedded carbon when it’s released.

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