This is excellent news: today Steve Jobs released a message detailing how Apple is committed to becoming a more environmentally responsible company – a “greener Apple.” The gist of his message is that Apple is removing toxic chemicals from all new products, more aggressively recycling old products, and exploring the energy efficiency and the overall carbon “footprint” of its products.

This follows months of complaints (especially by Greenpeace) that Apple is not as environmentally friendly as it could or should be.

Some of the toxic chemicals Apple has cut back on or completely phased out include lead, cadmium, hexavalent chromium (the carcinogen against which Erin Brockovich famously campaigned, according to the letter), Decabromodiphenyl Ether, arsenic, mercury, polyvinyl chloride, and brominated flame retardants.

Regarding ewaste, which Small Dog Electronics knows all about:

“Apple recycled 13 million pounds of e-waste in 2006, which is equal to 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. By 2010, we forecast recycling 19 million pounds of e-waste per year — nearly 30% of the product weight we sold seven years earlier.”

Jobs also notes: “All the e-waste we collect in North America is processed in the U.S., and nothing is shipped overseas for disposal. We carefully review “environmental fate” submissions from each vendor, so we know how raw materials are handled at the end of the recycling process.”

Macrumors.com points out that Steven Jobs mentions LED-backlighted displays, and confirms Apple will introduce Macs that use this technology “in 2007.” Apple was long rumored to use LED technology:

“To eliminate mercury in our displays, we need to transition from fluorescent lamps to light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to illuminate the displays. Fortunately, all iPod displays already use LEDs for illumination, and therefore contain no mercury. We plan to introduce our first Macs with LED backlight technology in 2007. Our ability to completely eliminate fluorescent lamps in all of our displays depends on how fast the LCD industry can transition to LED backlighting for larger displays.”

In conclusion, Steven Jobs writes:

“Today is the first time we have openly discussed our plans to become a greener Apple. It will not be the last. We will be providing updates of our efforts and accomplishments at least annually, most likely around this time of the year. And we plan to bring other environmental issues to the table as well, such as the energy efficiency of the products in our industry. We are also beginning to explore the overall carbon “footprint” of our products, and may have some interesting data and issues to share later this year.

I hope you are as delighted as I was when I first learned how far along Apple actually is in removing toxic chemicals from its products and recycling its older products. We apologize for leaving you in the dark for this long. Apple is already a leader in innovation and engineering, and we are applying these same talents to become an environmental leader. Based on our tangible actions and results over time, hopefully our customers, employees, shareholders and professional colleagues will all feel proud of our ongoing efforts to become a greener Apple.”

All of us at Small Dog Electronics are thrilled to read that Apple is, indeed, committed to greening up. From the tone and substance of this letter, it seems that Apple – and Steve Jobs – get how important this is. Apple can lead the way in corporate responsibility, as it has in the revolution in personal computing.

Read the original letter here.

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