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Apple pledges green glasnost

But eco-activists still not satisfied

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Apple has pledged to be more open about the steps it's taking to become more environmentally responsible. But despite the company's claim to be greener than the likes of Dell, HP and Lenovo, its eco nemesis, Greenpeace, wasn't entirely satisfied with the move.

Admitting that Apple hasn't done enough to let its stakeholders know about its eco strategy, CEO Steve Jobs, in an open letter to employees, customers, shareholders and activists, said the company would now be more open about such matters in future.

As a taster, Jobs provided a list of all the noxious chemicals the company has already eliminated from its products - in some cases in advance of legislation - and provided a timetable for the removal of toxic substances the company has yet to rid its products of.

So polyvinyl chloride, brominated flame retardants, arsenic will be out by the end of 2008. Lead is already out, a victim of Apple's move to remove CRTs from its monitor line-up. Cadmium, hexavalent chromium and decabromodiphenyl ether went out when Apple products met the standards set down by Europe's Reduction of Hazardous Substance (RoHS) regulations, which came into force in July 2006. The limits determine the make-up of all Apple's products, Jobs claimed, not just those destined to be sold in Europe.

All good stuff, Greenpeace said soon after Jobs' missive was published. But it took the Mac maker to task over its US-centric recycling policy: Apple will take back kit in the States, it noted, but hasn't pledged to do the same elsewhere.

Greenpeace has in the past particularly singled out Apple as a computer company with weak eco credentials, largely because of the Mac maker's non-corporate image - even though the company's products are no worse than any of its less cool rivals.

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