Apple – Eliminating Toxic Substances in Apple Products (2007)
Outcome: Successfully Withdrawn
Eliminating Toxic Substances in Apple Products
RESOLVED: Shareholders request that the Board publish a report within six months of the 2007 annual meeting, at reasonable cost and omitting confidential information, on the feasibility of adopting a policy of becoming a leader in the use of safe materials, by eliminating persistent and bioaccumulative toxic chemicals, and all types of brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics, in all Apple products, including an expeditious timetable to end the use of all BFRs and PVC.
We believe that Apple wants to be perceived as the clear marketplace leader in smart design of computers and related digital products, but certain competitors may be getting ahead of our company in the deployment of safer materials; for instance, Apple competitor Dell has committed to eliminate the use of all brominated flame retardants and PVC by 2009, while Apple has only stated its intent to work over an indefinite period to eliminate these substances.
Additional action is consistent with Apple’s stated policies. For instance, excerpts from company policies state:
“Apple recognizes its responsibility as a global citizen and is continually striving to reduce the environmental impact of the work we do and the products we create..
“Apple takes pride in its history of innovation and thoughtful design…Building world-class products includes considering the materials that go into their creation…
“Our continued goal is to reduce or eliminate environmentally harmful substances from our products and processes…
“Apple is also committed to protecting the health and safety of our employees, customers, and the global community… and
“Where laws and regulations do not provide adequate controls, we [Apple] will adopt our own standards to protect human health and the environment.”
Yet, according to AppleInsider.com, Apple was forced to halt sales of certain products, including the iSight, eMac and certain AirPort Base Stations for several months in Europe because they did not comply with the European Union’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive applicable to electronic products.
Over 100 countries have signed the Stockholm Convention calling for phaseout of certain persistent organic pollutants. Some substances like PVC can lead to the generation of persistent organic pollutants (e.g. dioxins) when burned. PVC is highly polluting in its production and disposal, contains biologically available contaminants such as phthalates and heavy metals and can generate hydrogen chloride gas.
New scientific evidence has revealed the hazards of BFRs used in circuit boards among other components that has been found in home and office environment. It has been shown that TBBPA (a type of BFRs) induced neurotoxicity and immunotoxicity. The presence of TBBPA or other bromine containing chemicals in electronics products have potential to form additional toxic chemicals dispersed to the environment when smelted or burned in open air.
Toxic substances in products represent serious potential liability to our company in the form of environmental clean up and tort litigation.
The innovative use of safer, longer lasting materials is consistent with Apple’s goal of capturing a larger share of the computer market.