This excerpt taken from the AAPL DEF 14A filed Mar 13, 2006.
WHEREAS Apple Computer emphasizes a commitment to environmental leadership. Yet the technical innovation responsible for leadership in designing and marketing products has not extended to developing adequate end-of-life programs.
The National Safety Council reported in 1999 that only 11% of discarded computers were recycled, compared with 28% of overall municipal solid waste. Electronic waste constitutes from 2% to 5% of the US municipal solid waste stream and is growing rapidly.
CEO Steve Jobs stated at the April 2005 annual meeting that Apple is a leader on environmental initiatives. Taking back iPods for free is a welcome step but on computer take back, our company still appears to be an industry laggard. If iPods can be returned to Apple stores, why not iMacs? Apple takes computer products back only if customers pay a fee, providing a significant disincentive to recycle.
Other companies have taken more significant actions to provide free recycling to supplement fee-based systems. In 2004, Dell sponsored groups to coordinate free recycling that collected 3 million pounds of equipment. Hewlett Packard partnered with Office Depot to offer free nationwide recycling, resulting in 10.5 million pounds of equipment. Apple needs to show leadership by developing similar broad-based programs. As Apple board member Al Gore has stated, We need to reaffirm that we have a right to assert values even if a supply and demand equation says, Thats not efficient.
Dell and Hewlett Packard have both announced public computer take back goals so stakeholders can measure progress against those goals; Apple has not.
Recent reports indicate that large amounts of discarded computers are being improperly shipped to developing countries. Shareholders need assurances that the company has taken adequate measures to ensure its recycling vendors dont export hazardous wastes.
The company should monitor the environmental impact of computers after they are collected for recycling. Apples web site says discarded plastics are used as fuel in smelters. Whenever plastic combusts, it can potentially create deadly dioxins. Burning plastic is not recycling.
The company has lobbied against legislation asking computer producers to take responsibility for most of the cost of recycling. Apple appears to want taxpayers to foot most of the bill for recycling.
We believe Apple Computer can avoid financial, legal and reputational risk and gain competitive advantage by taking additional measures to develop a leadership position on collection and safe disposition of old computers.
BE IT RESOLVED that Apple Computers board of directors prepare a report, at reasonable cost, studying ways to improve its computer recycling programs, to be released within six months of the annual shareholder meeting.
The report should include a commitment to set public take back goals for end-of-life equipment; study the feasibility of using Apple stores as take back centers, take back partnerships with resellers and other measures to stimulate recycling. It should discuss measures taken to prevent improper export of hazardous waste, the environmental impact of its recycling processes, and explain its lobbying position on take back legislation.