Apple 'greenest' laptop claim has some merit

Apple on Friday claimed victory in an environmental laptop tiff with Dell, which earlier complained that Apple was misleading buyers by calling its laptops "the world's greenest family of notebooks."

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Apple on Friday claimed victory in an environmental laptop tiff with Dell, which earlier complained that Apple was misleading buyers by calling its laptops "the world's greenest family of notebooks."

Dell had filed a complaint with the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, saying Apple's use of the phrase was a "broad superiority claim" against all manufacturers' laptops. NAD investigated the advertised tagline and implied claims that Apple's laptops were "greener" than other brands.

After the investigation, NAD on Thursday said that consumers could be misled by Apple's claims, which were used in Internet and TV advertisements. NAD suggested that Apple change the green tagline in advertisements to "avoid overstatement", which otherwise could cause confusion among buyers, who might think MacBooks are superior to other laptops.

NAD evaluated Apple's MacBooks based on the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) rating, a recognised standard that helps consumers compare PCs based on their environmental impact. NAD stated that Apple has high EPEAT ratings across its entire line of laptops, while no other manufacturer has "comparable high ratings for all of the notebooks it produces."

Apple "elected to only produce computer notebooks that meet the highest EPEAT ratings," NAD said in its Thursday ruling.

However, NAD found that certain laptop brands, such as Toshiba's Portege line, had a higher EPEAT rating than MacBooks.

Apple did not comment on whether it would make changes based on NAD's recommendations. However, a company spokeswoman said the recommendations confirm Apple's commitment to being green.

"The NAD's ruling is a clear victory for Apple. The case challenged our claim to the 'world's greenest family of notebooks,' and NAD has confirmed that MacBooks are in fact the world's greenest notebook computers when compared to other manufacturers' product lines as a whole," the spokeswoman said.

Dell did not respond to a request for comment.

Non-profit environmental groups have backed Apple's efforts to reduce the environmental impact of its PCs. Greenpeace International in 2007 applauded Apple's commitment to phase out by 2008 the use on components and circuit boards of chemicals that could affect human health. Those chemicals included brominated fire retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC).