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Consumers Demand Greener Products, And Tech Companies Are Responding

As electronic and computer companies increasingly move toward greener products and recycling procedures, a 2007 ImagePower Green Brands Survey shows a shift in U.S. consumer attitudes.
Whether it's a matter of survival or ideology among corporate leaders, several technology companies are responding to increasing consumer and shareholder demands for greener products and practices. Some have launched green marketing campaigns, several have touted energy-efficient servers, and many promote take-back programs for recycling and reuse.

IBM, for example, said last month it processed more than 100 million pounds of used and obsolete computer gear in 2006.

Earlier this week, Apple's Steve Jobs responded to Greenpeace criticism that the company was not green enough. About one month after the group launched a campaign urging users to ask Jobs's for a "greener Apple," he promised one. He said the company would do more to promote its environmental efforts and respond to stakeholders.

"Our stakeholders deserve and expect more from us, and they're right to do so," he said in a statement posted online. "They want us to be a leader in this area, just as we are in the other areas of our business. So today we're changing our policy."

Apple has phased out iMacs with cathode-ray tube displays containing 484 grams of lead and replaced them with LCD-based iMacs containing less than one gram of lead. Jobs said the company will phase out brominated fire retardants and polyvinyl chloride by 2008.

Jobs said Apple recycled 13 million pounds of e-waste in 2006, or 9.5% of the weight of all products Apple sold seven years earlier.

"We expect this percentage to grow to 13% in 2007, and to 20% in 2008," he said. "By 2010, we forecast recycling 19 million pounds of e-waste per year -- nearly 30% of the product weight we sold seven years earlier.

Greenpeace is still asking the company to extend its e-waste program. Lenovo tops the group's list for environmental performance among technology companies. Rankings are based on measurements of toxic wastes produced and recycling programs. Nokia, Dell, and Sony aren't far behind. Apple ranked at the bottom of the barrel before drawing praise for Jobs' declaration of greater commitment.