Apple Debuts a Greener, Less Toxic iPod Nano

Last year, Steve Jobs promised that Apple work work toward less toxic, easier-to-recycle consumer products. So how do the new iPod Nanos measure up?

It came as no surprise to the consumer electronic press that Apple introduced a sleek new line of iPod Nanos at its Lets Rock media event Tuesday afternoon. The Nano media players was a bit overdue for a refresh, and its the time of year when companies look ahead to the Christmas retail season.

But the attention given during Steve Jobs presentation to the environmental improvements to the 4th generation Nanos underlines how seriously the company takes improving its Green cred. Thats a tough sell for the electronics industry. Those cute little entertainment devices and wireless phones we carry around punch beyond their weight in terms of materials youd rather not see getting back into our soil and drinking water: Brominated Fire Retardants (BFRs), Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), and a variety of exotic metals used in semiconductors.

Green My Apple

Apples environmental policies began drawing fire a couple years back when Greenpeace mounted its Green My Apple website. The campaign highlighted Apples lack of leadership in Green electronics something you wouldnt expect from a commercial concern so geared to artsy, socially aware consumers.

We love Apple. Apple knows more about clean design than anybody, right? So why do Macs, iPods, iBooks and the rest of their product range contain hazardous substances that other companies have abandoned? A cutting edge company shouldnt be cutting lives short by exposing children in China and India to dangerous chemicals. Thats why we Apple fans need to demand a new, cool product: a greener Apple.

From the Green My Apple website

Apple responds

In the spring of 2007, Apple responded with a five-page environmental statement called a Greener Apple. While pointing out that the company had, indeed, been making progress, Company CEO Steve Jobs laid out an aggressive program to reduce product toxicity and improve recyclability by 2010.

Specifically targeted: reducing lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, and PVCs in computers and home entertainment components. Apple has also been giving some thought to its packaging, opting for biodegradable materials and reducing unnecessary bulk wherever possible. This summers 3G iPhones shipped in Styrofoam-free trays made from potato starch.

Greener Nanos

At todays Apple event staged to introduce a general overhaul of the companys iPod line and announce the availability of iTunes 8 Jobs took a few minutes to highlight some of the environmental improvements to the new Nano line. They include:

    • Arsenic-free display glass
    • Construction free of Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs)
    • No use of mercury
    • No use of PVCs
    Highly recyclable metal casings

These moves are consistent with Apples promise to green its products as suitable eco-friendly materials and technologies become available. Of course, dedicated Greenies will resist impulse purchases of manufactured goods, particularly those manufactured and shipped from overseas. But for most consumers, programs such as Apples represent a growing trend by companies to respect consumer desire for cleaner, less toxic products.

The new Nanos are priced at $149 for 8 GB storage and $199 for 16 GB. Featuring nine colors, an improved video display, and the addition of the motion-sensing accelerometer first introduced in Apples popular iPhone, theyre already onsale at the Apple Store. Retail outlets should stocked by this weekend.