Why is the iPhone poisonous?

Now. If I’m honest, I’ve been awaiting, like a giddy child, the arrival of the iPhone since this January. I was thoroughly impressed by it when Jobs demonstrated the ‘gadget to end all gadgets’ back at the annual MacWank in San Fran and got even more excited when a friend of mine brought one to work last week (sorry Steve, folks have actually been buying them – shock! horror! – off of e-bay). No doubt about it: it’s a beautifully designed device.
But, as has been noted here before on Blather, Apple products have some questionable production procedures – notably the rather nasty collection of hazardous materials (specifically, plastic Polyvinyl Chloride/PVC) which are used in their manufacture and the rather scandalous manner in which materials are dumped in Asia.
And now, according to a Greenpeace bulletin, Apple have declined to heed the challenges laid out in the ‘Green my Apple’ campaign and will cheerfully release the iPhone to the market whilst being replete with toxic materials. From Greenpeace:

‘…we bought a new iPhone in June and sent it our Research Laboratories in the UK. Analysis revealed that the iPhone contains toxic brominated compounds (indicating the presence of brominated flame retardants (BFRs)) and hazardous PVC. The findings are detailed in the report, “Missed call: the iPhone’s hazardous chemicals

It seems that Apple, rather than seizing the opportunity to be the world leaders in green electronic production, have given into the lure of cheap production and given us yet another product riddled with hazardous materials. A shame.
So, can we expect Apple to address the concerns in Greenpeace’s findings and inform us all about what we can do when we want to dispose of the device? You know, when the next iPhone comes out…
This video outlines the issues.

Green my Apple
And if you don’t want to take Greenpeace’s word for it, sure what the hell, you can always just blend the thing:

Damien DeBarra was born in the late 20th century and grew up in Dublin, Ireland. He now lives in London, England where he shares a house with four laptops, three bikes and a large collection of chairs.


  1. Over at, ‘The Register’ they’ve been discussing why Greenpeace have singled out Apple.
    “Greenpeace has tacitly admitted it’s been focusing its criticism of the mobile phone industry on Apple’s iPhone because it gets more headlines.”
    The Register

  2. Yep. I had wondered as to why Apple were getting so much heat about this when they are far from the largest manufacturer of hardware. That said, Apple are unique in that they entirely control the production process of their machines – albeit Macs contain a lot of ‘foreign’ parts these days. All the same, Apple are in a unique position, because of their iconic status and cross-over into many areas of media devices, to lead on the issue and make it the industry norm to consciously manufacture media devices to be recyclable.
    I’m pretty sure that buoyed by the success that this campaign has brought, Greenpeace will extend the campaign to place pressure on Dell, HP and the rest. Or at least I hope they will…

  3. I agree Apple should take a lead, Steve Jobs is an old hippie after all and he did name the company Apple which has green connotations ;o)
    But Apple are meeting their legal requirements and have promised to eliminate PVC’s/BFR’s by end of 2008.

  4. Folks, there’s no big mystery here – of course Greenpeace wants to get headlines on this – and it works, we’re all talking about here, and the Register’s talking about, and Mac websites everywhere.
    The wider campaign – looking at toxics in consumer electronics products. You can see the 5th edition of the Green Guide to Electronics
    You can see the full set of stories here:
    Toxic contents on laptops:
    This includes Lenovo, Nokia, Motorola, Panasonic, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba, Apple, Dell, HP, Fujitsu, LG and Acer

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