iPad Helps Businesses 'Go Green', But How Green is Apple?

iPad is Helping Businesses Go Green...

In the lead up to the launch of iPad 2, Mashable released an article stating three reasons why they think that the iPad can help businesses go green. According to the article, "Energy usage, environmental auditing and paper reduction are all areas where businesses are seeing improvements as a result of adopting the iPad."

From an energy savings point of view, the iPad can be used to actually reduce the amount of energy consumed. Lutron is one of the top lighting control design and manufacturing companies, having created energy-saving solutions for homes and businesses of all types. They are now leading the way in how people manage energy control systems from tablet devices. They have developed an app that can be used with the iPad to control energy usage of various appliances as well as central systems like thermostats.

Other companies like Elm Consulting Group use the iPad to take the paperless route towards energy auditing. According to their Director, "We have been using it for audits for 6-8 months now and have shown a 15-20% time efficiency and labor savings in the dozen or so audits we have done with the iPad. Our use also reduces errors and omissions in audits, ensuring a more thorough process and end result."

Architectural firm BCRA uses the iPad to decrease the use of paper. BCRA estimates that the use of iPads has led to a reduction of about 41 pounds of paper per month, representing about $1,507 per month in savings associated with printing costs alone.  Furthermore, the firm estimates that by year's end, new orders of printed brochures will be reduced by 80%, as they will be found on employee iPads instead.

...But is Apple Really Green?

However it has been pointed out that the iPad itself is not exactly a green gadget. Using it rather than paper doesn't automatically mean that businesses are getting greener in their operations. Recent CSR allegations against Apple has put the company's 'greeness' in the news.

It was found that many of Apple's suppliers from mainland China did not follow any kind of environmental or social code. This goes against the grain of Apple's own CSR policy. The company is one of the leaders in using conflict free metals but continues to endorse the use of underage labour.

Most of Apple's supply chain issues are a by-product of outsourcing and it can be argued that the fault lies with China's labour laws. However this does not completely discount the role of the company in encouraging these practices. It may be true that the iPad is enabling businesses to go green. It is also true that Apple makes some fantastic gadgets.

But in order to qualify as a green gadget, a piece of equipment needs to meet three basic criteria:

1) Should be manufactured without toxic chemicals with longevity in mind

2) Should be used well with renewable power and regular maintenance

3) Should be reused or recycle so that there is no e-waste

Not quite sure if Apple qualifies.

Picture Credit: iPad Press Release