Apple Touts 'Greenest Family Of Notebooks Ever'

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In the 30-second spot, Apple says that the redesigned MacBooks unveiled in October are free of mercury and other harmful toxins found in other PCs, and have cases made of recyclable aluminum and glass. MacBooks are also engineered to run on a quarter of the power of a single light bulb, Apple notes.

In addition to using mercury-free LED technology and arsenic-free glass, Apple, in an environmental update posted to its Web site, says it has removed brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and PVC from the MacBook as well as the Apple LED Cinema Display, iPod touch, iPod classic, iPod nano and iPhone 3G.

Apple has been criticized for its stranglehold on hardware and software, but that's one of the reasons the company gives for being able to design MacBooks to use less electricity and earn Energy Star certification.

Apple appears to have improved its environmental image since last October, when Greenpeace issued a scathing report that claimed the iPhone contains hazardous chemicals in both its external and internal components.

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It's unclear how many consumers actually based purchasing decisions on a vendor's environmental track record, but it can be an important part of convincing a customer to purchase a higher-end Apple machine, says Erick Laabs, vice president of The Mac Store, a Portland, Ore.-based Apple reseller.

"This type of marketing can help make it easier for a customer to justify an Apple notebook over a cheaper Windows-based PC," Laabs said.

It's possible that the green MacBook ads could be the beginning of a campaign to juxtapose Apple's progressive environmental policies with those of its plodding, backward competitors. It has been done before, with great effectiveness.

Greenpeace applauded Apple's elimination of some toxic materials in the latest MacBooks, but the environmental organization dropped Apple's ranking from 10th to 14th in its recently released December 2008 Guide To Greener Electronics.

Greenpeace asserts in the report that despite some companies' progress, the IT industry has a long way to go when it comes to being environmentally friendly.

The presence of a tough-to-please watchdog like Greenpeace could stifle the effectiveness of Apple's green ad campaign, and suggests that Apple would be better off continuing to focus on cutting out toxic materials from its other products.