Apple bruised in climate report

By , Blogger for The Christian Science Monitor

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    The exterior view of Apple Computer headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.
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Apple Inc. received a failing grade this week by Climate Counts, a nonprofit group that scores companies on their commitment to halt climate change.

In its second annual report, Climate Count gave Apple just 11 points out of 100, far behind 11 other electronics companies that it rated. IBM, Canon, and Toshiba scored the highest, earning 77, 74, and 70 points, respectively.

Scores were based on whether the company had conducted an audit of its total greenhouse gas emissions, taken steps to reduce those emissions, and backed (or blocked) legislation aimed at curbing global warming. Points were also given for transparency in reporting their own climate actions.

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Apple, whose board includes Al Gore, got poor marks for having no publicly available information about its own carbon footprint or its stance on climate legislation. Still, it's an improvement over last year, when the Cupertino, Calif., company scored only two points.

Overall, Climate Counts scored 60 companies in industries ranging from clothing to food to media. Nike won top prize, with 82 points, while Google had the most improvement, going from 17 to 55 points.

The biggest losers were restaurants, with Wendy's, Burger King, and Darden Restaurants (the owners of Olive Garden and Red Lobster) scoring zero points. Yum Brands, the owner of Taco Bell and KFC, scored one pont. Also scoring zero was Jones Apparel, the makers of Nine West, Anne Klein, and Easy Spirit products, among others.

Climate Counts headed by Gary Hirshberg, the chief executive of organic yogurt maker Stonyfield Farms. For it's part, Stonyfield scored 78 points, placing it second overall after Nike. Last year it scored 63.

Climate Counts is not the first organization to criticize Apple for its environmental stance. Last year, Greenpeace claimed victory in its campaign to pressure Apple to clean up its act. Its campaign, which included a Webby-award winning spoof of Apple's website, prompted a detailed response from Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who pledged to change his company's manufacturing and recycling policies.

According to Greenpeace, Apple is making progress. In its most recent Guide to Greener Electronics, released in March, Greenpeace said that Apple has gotten better at reducing or eliminating toxic chemicals in its computers, but that it still needs to be more transparent and that it needs to improve its recycling programs worldwide. Overall, Greenpeace gave Apple a score of 6.7 out of 10, placing it roughly in the middle of the 18 electronics manufacturers that it rated.

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