Tim Longhurst's Blog

iPod’s are tiny and toxic – Apple moves to protect America

June 13th, 2005 · No Comments

ipod.jpgApple iPods contain lead, mercury and other toxins.1 That’s particularly a problem considering there are more than 10 million of them in the world.2

Toxins in landfills are bad news for the environment, so Apple has launched a program (exclusive to the US) where people can take their broken/unwanted iPod to Apple for environmentally-friendly disposal (source: Apple).

What about the rest of the world? Is Apple only concerned about their products polluting America? I found no evidence that Apple’s iPod
recycling program extended beyond the US. Surely Apple thinks the
environment outside America is worth protecting as well? Or do they “Think Different”?

So I phoned Apple…

A quick phone call to the Apple Store (Australia) confirmed my fears – there is no take-back program for the more than 800,0003 iPods floating around this country.

Apple
Australia’s staff must be furious that their American parent is busy
investing resources to protect the American environment from iPod
toxins, while nothing has been invested to protect Australia from the
very same pollutants. Perhaps this frustration is echoed around the
world.

Why isn’t the iPod take-back worldwide?

When
Apple launched its Tiger Operating System in the USA, they felt it was
so important they managed to launch it in many countries (including
Australia) on the same day.

Why wasn’t the iPod take-back program launched in many countries on the same day?

Let
me get this straight – when Apple stands to make money (by launching
software), their programs operate across borders. When the environment
stands to win (by taking back iPods), the program stays in the United
States?

That doesn’t sound ok to me and I doubt that it’s ok with you, either.

Where to from here?

If
you think Apple should take responsibility for the toxins they design
into their products, call them and let them know. It will take less
than two minutes, and you will be able to see first hand whether
Apple is the customer-focused, forward thinking organisation we’d like
them to be.

Register your concern with the friendly Apple Store operators.

Please
be polite and courteous: I’m confident Apple’s retail staff will share
your reservations about one environmentally-friendly iPod policy for
America and nothing for the rest of the world, and will gladly pass on
your comments.

In Australia you can call 133 622 and follow the options to speak to an Apple Store representative.
Other countries: use Apple’s website (scroll to the foot of the page) to find the number for your Apple Store.

Read more:
Fix it Apple – the Green Guide
Environmentalists push for a ‘greener’ iPod | csmonitor.com
Computer Take Back Campaign

Bibliography:
1 Source: Information Week and the Green Guide
2 Source: Steve Jobs here
3 Source: Apple Store (Australia) representative

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Category: Corporate craziness

McDonalds’ nutritional information: i’m missin’ it.

May 30th, 2005 · No Comments

supersizeme.jpgMorgan Spurlock’s film, Super Size Me, documents the near-collapse of his body as he ate nothing but McDonald’s for a month.

When the film came to Australia, McDonald’s CEO, Guy Russo, went into damage control.
He ran an advertising campaign that pointed out, for example, that consumers were encouraged to make informed food choices. Nutritional information posters, he advised, were now clearly displayed in all restaurants.

No sooner had the movie disappeared from cinemas, than the posters began disappearing from restaurants.

Instead of big posters, McDonald’s nutritional information is now stuck on the wrappers of many (but not all) of their products. This means customers can easily discover exactly how fatty and sugar-filled their food is – after they’ve paid for it.

If displaying the nutritional “value” of their food on in-store posters is an idea so good that McDonald’s made a 30-second TV commercial about it, then why are the posters missing? If McDonald’s is serious about puting
nutrition at the top of consumers minds at the point of purchase, the posters should be returned to high
visibility areas in each and every restaurant.

I doubt McDonalds management visit my website very often, so you might like to call them and have a chat: (02)
9875 6666. Let me know how you go.

Supersize Me movie website
McDonalds Australia – contact form

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Corporate Social Responsibility – Show the community you care

May 12th, 2005 · No Comments

RUSH MOTTLING is a guest columnist. While Rush’s views do not necessarily reflect those of this website, we feel our readers deserve access to ideas from a variety of perspectives. We hope you enjoy the words of this popular and charismatic commentator.

ogilvy.jpgThe day Coca-Cola announced they were putting recycling points throughout Sydney, I came close to selling my shares. As a stockholder, I was outraged. What were they doing squandering my dividends on this hippy-initiative?

I’m man enough to admit, I didn’t give the folks at Coke the credit they deserve.

Some people are starting to ask questions about the “limits to growth” and they’re looking at companies like Coke with an eye of suspicion.

Some critics contend that legitimate enterprises such as Coca-Cola place an “unnecessary burden” on an “ailing planet”. They focus on the trucks, plastics factories, sugar-cane plantations and refrigeration systems that are required to drive an industry that “ultimately creates cavities, obesity and landfill”. So how can Coke address such concerns while leaving their core business unscathed? One way is to invest in recycling containers. Now that’s proactive environmentalism.

Of course Coke cares about the environment – they know it’s all about striking a balance. Coke have listened to their stakeholders and they’ve made some significant changes. Through the purchase of recycling containers they’ve become greener than a Sprite bottle! You might hear critics like Tim Longhurst claim that such initiatives are a cynical move to distract the public. Let me launch a pre-emptive strike on such stupidity: Longy, you’re an idiot.

Our friends at Coke are investing in what is called ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ (CSR). It’s a complex process that involves a consideration of what the environment or the community need and then demonstrating that you share
those concerns and fixing those problems is what your company is all about.

To illustrate the importance of CSR, I’ll include some case studies:

Community Case Study: National Australia Bank

National Australia Bank have recently reported a 17 per cent jump in first-half net profit to $2.5 billion. The next minute, they announce they’re going to fire 10% of their workforce: 4200 workers.

What are you going to do? Focus on the devastated families?

Of course not. You might need to be reminded that the NAB allows charities to list their fundraising events on the bank’s website! How many companies do that? NAB are the good guys!

Really, it all balances out.

Environment Case Study: Shell Oil

The television commercial opens with soothing ‘pan flute’ whistling. An environmental scientist is gushing about how glad she is to be working with such a great, forward thinking company…how she’s proud to be protecting our ‘fragile environment’. Cut to footage of untouched wilderness… A sweeping panorama of rainforest set amongst rolling mountains… Fade to black… Reveal Shell logo.

I marvel at Shell’s commitment to the environment every time I picture that commercial. Critics might question what a pristine rainforest has to do with an oil company. But where are critics going to find $5 million to run a counter-campaign? Not from selling beads and driving Canola Oil cars!

In the Shell example I have highlighted one of the most important elements of great CSR: Greenwashing. For too long, businesses have taken the environment for granted. Sure, they have exploited it for profit, but it’s only in recent years that they have begun exploiting it for reputation.

A buddy of mine at Burson Marsteller summed up CSR with these words: Perception Management. “Changing what
you do?” he shuddered, “That’s hard. Changing what it looks like you do?” he smiled: ‘That can be arranged.”

Perhaps the most valuable element of CSR is that there is little need for transparency: you can spend $50,000 on a charity and then $500,000 talking about how good it felt to give to charity. Pretty soon, people will see that it’s ok if your company pays little or no tax: you give more than enough back to the community as it is. Charging tax to the
very company that is providing recycling containers across Sydney?

Sounds a bit rich, doesn’t it?


Rush Mottling is not real. He is made up.
Rush’s essays are published here with permission.

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Toyota ‘eggs on’ aggressive drivers

April 26th, 2005 · No Comments

toyotasmash.jpgWhat ethics are being applied when a car company celebrates the driving mentality usually encouraged by ultra-violent video games like Carmageddon?

Dr Henrik Ziegler has written an open letter to Toyota Australia about their new ute advertising campaign. Key points of the letter include:

-The new slogan, “Get in, or get out of the way” goads people to drive aggressively. Aggressive driving is no joke: around two thousand people are killed on Australian roads every year.

– The campaign is analogous to someone selling a shovel by extolling the virtues of bashing people over the head with one – – “Intimidating styling”, “aggressive bonnet scoop”, “dominating moulded front bumpers..”

Significantly, the letter finds conflict in Toyota’s rhetoric and reality:

– Does this campaign fit in with Toyota’s “2010 global vision”? “Respect for all people”? “Comfort of life”? If this is the corporate image Toyota’s aiming for, how does a belligerent, lowest-common-denominator campaign aimed at playing on and encouraging aggressive driver behaviour constitute a move in this direction?

Will be interesting to see Toyota’s response…

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