Apple's environmental claims came under scrutiny by the bureau's National Advertising Division following complaints by rival Dell that Apple's message implied its products were environmentally superior to competitors. The rivals make products that have the same Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool rating used by computer makers to prove their greenness.
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NAD found that Apple was unique among PC manufacturers in that "it has elected to only produce computer notebooks that meet the highest EPEAT ratings."
"While other manufacturers may have subcategories of lines with similar ratings, none has comparable high ratings for all of the notebooks it produces," the division said in a statement.
NAD, however, had problems with Apple's use of the word "family" and the implication that its products were the "world's greenest." NAD noted that some Toshiba Portage notebooks have a higher EPEAT rating than MacBooks.
"Accordingly, NAD recommended that Apple modify its 'world’s greenest family of notebooks' claim to make clearer that the basis of comparison is between all MacBooks to all notebooks made by a given competitor and avoid the reference to 'world's greenest' given the potential for overstatement," the division said.
But rather than drop its "world's greenest" claim, Apple only tweaked its language to read "the world's greenest lineup of notebooks."
The company also issued a statement. "Apple appreciates the NAD's thoughtful review of this matter, and supports its self-regulation efforts."
Apple claims to meet the highest EPEAT standards in four areas: recyclability, reduced packaging, fewer toxic materials, and increased energy efficiency. Dell had complained that other computer makers meet the same standards and that Apple's ads implied superiority.
Computer makers use the greenness of their systems to entice environmentally conscious buyers. In addition, environmental ratings can be attractive to businesses looking to reduce disposal costs and to add greater power efficiency.
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