Apple says Greenpeace puts ‘too much weight on glorified principles’

Steve Jobs used Apple’s annual shareholders meeting this week to take a swipe at environmental group Greenpeace, and to answer criticism about the company's stock-options scandal.

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Steve Jobs used Apple’s annual shareholders meeting this week to take a swipe at environmental group Greenpeace, and to answer criticism about the company's stock-options scandal.

Jobs blunted much of the anticipated criticism of Apple’s environmental record with an essay, A Greener Apple, which was posted on Apple.com on 4 April.

The company has also deflected criticism by revealing plans to substitute light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for the fluorescent lamps now used to backlight Macs' flat-panel screen displays.

This contributed to the withdrawal of two environmental proposals at the shareholders meeting before they were voted on. Two representatives from Greenpeace were present at the meeting and congratulated Jobs and Apple for the company's commitment to the environment.

However, Jobs had strong words for Greenpeace and the way the organisation has chosen to measure the environmental commitments of manufacturing companies.

"I think your organisation particularly depends too much on principle and not enough on fact," Jobs said to the Greenpeace representatives. "You guys rate people based on what people say their plans are in the distant future, not what they are doing today. I think you put way too much weight on these glorified principles and way too little weight on science and engineering.

“It would be very helpful if your organisation hired a few more engineers and actually entered into dialogue with companies to find out what they are really doing and not just listen to all the flowery language when in reality most of them aren't doing anything. That's my opinion."

Jobs then gave an example of his complaints: in looking for alternate means of producing products without hazardous chemicals, he said, Apple talked to some of the only organisations in the world that could make it happen. Despite the fact other computer makers have claimed they were working on alternatives, Jobs said Apple was the first computer company those organisations had actually heard from.

Jobs then offered to help Greenpeace improve its measuring technology, saying that while Apple supported the idea of an environmental report card, it needed to be a real report card based on science.

"Something that simple could go so far in our opinion," said Jobs. "We are not going to set up a big infrastructure to engage environmental groups. We are real interested in getting the work done."

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