Friday, March 9, 2012

How green is the New iPad?

The New iPad was revealed this week by Apple and as always made a lot of buzz. So much was written about each and every specification of the new iPad model and it looks like the perfect timing to ask the question that is most important to us - how green or eco-friendly the New iPad is?

Exactly one year ago (March 9, 2011) I asked the same question about the iPad 2 in an article on TriplePundit entitled 'How Green is the iPad 2?'. I developed there a model based on 3 criteria that was supposed to help figuring out. Here's a reminder of this model:

An upgraded device could be valued as a green upgrade if it meets the following three requirements:

1. It includes at least five significant improvements to the previous model.

2. It improves the environmental and social impacts of the previous model by at least 20%.

3. The company releasing the new model sets up a goal of reusing or recycling at least 95% of the old models when replaced with the new model.

Now, let's see if the New iPad meet these criteria:

1. 5 significant improvements comparing to the previous model

Let's look at a comparison that was published on Huffington Post between the New iPad and iPad 2 (you can click on the infographic to see it in full size):

So what do we have here? Better resolution, better storage capacity, and that's it. So maximum of 2 improvements you call significant. Bottom line: Apple doesn't meet the first criteria.

2. At least 20% improvement in the environmental and social impacts of the previous model

We still need to wait and see as Apple didn't publish yet the carbon footprint of the New iPad. My guestimation is that the improvement in the carbon footprint will be in the range of 10-20 percent, but again, we'll have to wait and see. With regards to the social footprint, I guess any new improvements that will come out as a result of the Fair Labor Association's audit will be implemented in the manufacturing lines of all the iPad models so the New iPad doesn't really change anything.

Bottom line: the jury is still out.

3. Setting up a goal by Apple of reusing or recycling at least 95% of the old models when replaced with the new model.

Apple hasn't said anything about such a goal and it's quite clear this issue is not on its agenda, at least not the New iPad release's agenda.

Bottom line: Apple does not meet this criteria.

As you can see of the three criteria, Apple might be able to meet one at best. Therefore we can conclude that while the New iPad might be pretty, worth the money and even cool, it is certainly not green. Hopefully with the next iPad (iPad 4?), Apple will do a better job when it comes to makes its devices more sustainable.

For more information on how green is the iPad visit our iPad webpage at

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Plant a tree for every book you read!


clayton said...

I didn't know people focused on how "green" their electronics are. I'm mostly concerend with air quality, and things causing cancer. Our los angeles housekeeping service keeps people healthy by cleaning with non-toxic cleaning supplies.

VOCs are very dangerous!

Anonymous said...

I'm a grad student who just purchased the new iPad (iPad 3?), not as a replacement, but as an upgrade from printing out all of my articles and using other paper for notes/diagrams/etc. I'd been getting through about 1.5 BOXES of printer paper a year.

I figured out that the carbon footprint of the iPad 3 is ~286.6 lb of CO2 for the life of the product. The carbon footprint from one box of paper? 305 lb of CO2. That figure doesn't include the impact of ink, the printer, etc.

For me, the iPad was the greener choice. I plan on using it until it's completely irreprable, which will save an awful lot of trees and waste!