Print 39 comment(s) - last by tmouse.. on Oct 26 at 10:29 AM

There is more back and forth, as many groups are critical at Greenpeace's iPhone analysis.

Last week it was covered by DailyTech that Greenpeace had taken a swing at Apple, citing them for what they felt was a number of environmental violations in the iPhone's design.

The report and Greenpeace's vocal support of it is drawing criticism from some, though Apple is strangely silent on the issue, simply saying that it is working to reduce the use of certain chemicals and is constantly trying to stay environment friendly.

It appears the key gripe back and forth between Greenpeace and its detractors seems not to be the body of the report, but a specific point in it.

The argument centers on the use of brominated flame retardants (BFRs) in the phone.  BFRs are thought to be capable of reacting, either under highly acidic conditions such as the human stomach via ingestion or under high heat if scorched (such as in an iFire).  Also, exposing them to water is suspected of leading to possible water supply contamination.

Unfortunately, BFRs provide the best fire-retardant protection currently available.  As many of the plastics in consumer electronics are flammable, this produces a tricky situation.  Replacing these plastics can be economically costly.

The bromine chemical industry released a new report blasting Greenpeace's claims about BFRs.  The report adopts a "you can't prove we did it and so what if we did" stance in both trying to attack Greenpeace's findings and attack their statements about BFRs, even if their findings were accurate.

The report criticizes Greenpeace's use of XRF (X-Ray Fluorescence spectrometry) which can detect elements on the surface, but cannot detect molecules or specific concentrations of elements, which could yield empirical molecular composition.  Basically, the report is trying to say that Greenpeace could not tell the difference between a BFR and another brominated compound with its lab equipment (note that even if this is true, most halogen compounds used in industry are mildly carcinogenic at least, although, as previously mentioned you might have to do something like swallow them to absorb them into your body).

The industry report also points out the economic problems which it feels mandates the use of BFRs and points out that European Union regulations still allow BFRs.

Greenpeace has issued a response on tech blog Gizmodo, in which it counters these arguments.

It points out that the report is coming from an industry analyst who stands to lose if BFRs are eliminated.

Greenpeace points out that it used gas chromatography/mass spectrometry on the compounds as well, to try to better zero in on the chemical form of the bromine containing compounds.  It points out that the polymeric form of BFRs makes it difficult, and perhaps impossible to precisely determine the compound's identity, using current testing methods.

Interestingly, Greenpeace acknowledges to some extent the economic dilemma involved with eliminating the BFRs.

The really interesting bit, though, comes not in Greenpeace's official rebuttal, but in a letter typed by one of their spokespeople who sent it out.

The letter links to a web blog with Greenpeace's response.

More interestingly, is Greenpeace's acknowledgement that iPhone campaign is making headlines, though it states that it is not concerned with that.  "While it might not make as many headlines as the iPhone it doesn't mean that we are not focusing on all manufacturers," said Greenpeace in a statement.

Whether Greenpeace is unfairly targeting the iPhone is unclear, but it is clear that it has an understanding that its attacks will generate publicity. 

Whether its intentions are altruistic or malicious is open for debate.  The tricky part about this issue is that you are dealing with two biased parties--industry analysts and environmental activists Greenpeace.  Equally tricky is the issue of the chemicals themselves.  Many substances used in modern materials are toxic to some extent, but often they are economically viable and have unique beneficial characteristics. 

While some would have you believe the picture is black or white, it is largely gray, and society must examine each instance individual and try to make an objective decision, weighing the benefits and risks.  That's what would be logical at least.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

In short
By FITCamaro on 10/23/2007 9:16:11 AM , Rating: 5
Don't eat your iPhone. Or set it on fire.

Of course if you do the former, I think you've got larger issues.

RE: In short
By Master Kenobi on 10/23/2007 10:19:43 AM , Rating: 6
We can't expect users to use common sense, that would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committee's, oversight, and lawyers.

RE: In short
By Hellburn on 10/23/2007 10:43:19 AM , Rating: 3
I vote that comment for the classic quotes at the bottom! :)

It's so sad that it is so true.

RE: In short
By ksherman on 10/23/2007 12:16:18 PM , Rating: 3

RE: In short
By KristopherKubicki on 10/23/2007 12:45:00 PM , Rating: 2
Approved :)

RE: In short
By The0ne on 10/24/2007 4:31:15 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. As I've said in the original post, consumer and users will do things to your product that no one in your company could have ever come up with. And there's only so much warning via everything you can think of to address and still not cover everything. It's a no win scenario for the company. You can't anticipate what they'll do so you do the best you can. That's all you can really do.

Just recently, we had a internal company discussion to determine what we need to do to make our terminal safer. This was because one Merchant slamming the lid down on the printer. I mean literally slamming the lid! This destroys the motor gears and thus damaged the whole printer assembly. Well, we thought about putting warning labels on the unit and in the manual, making a how to use and updating the maintenance manual, etc. But really it all comes down to that fact that you're not suppose to slammed a lid down on anything. It's just common sense. It's almost like "don't eat fire". Sigh.

This however is questionable to me as many other products are more dangerous and are selling.

RE: In short
By The0ne on 10/25/2007 1:17:24 PM , Rating: 2
Too add to the stupidity of some users we also recently had users of our POS (point of sale) terminal laying their hands on top of the unit, which houses the receipt printer. It would be obvious for many of use why the printer wouldn't print of course but how do you go about dealing with something like this. The company had wanted to spend money to prevent this but I didn't approve due to the fact that it's a "user" error and that we can't eliminate this and others user errors completely.

RE: In short
By Trisagion on 10/23/2007 10:21:31 AM , Rating: 3
Don't eat your iPhone

Don't worry. If that was popular, Apple would already have exclusive contracts with hospitals to remove them. Of course, if you violate that, you'll just have to wait until it turns to an iS*it.

RE: In short
By Oregonian2 on 10/23/2007 1:42:45 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure Greenpiece (tm) will insist that iPhones are being promoted for eating seeing as how the company who makes it is named Apple (also insert link to biblical eden story here).

RE: In short
By Misty Dingos on 10/23/2007 10:25:30 AM , Rating: 4
I will have mine with some fava beans and a nice chianti please.

RE: In short
By omnicronx on 10/23/2007 10:44:50 AM , Rating: 4
So this only includes phones right? I can still safely eat my Mac laptop and desktop?

RE: In short
By Martimus on 10/23/2007 2:12:36 PM , Rating: 2
My daughter has a habit of chewing on things. She could take an ear-bud and chew on it while I am not looking. Maybe I will consider getting an iPod after she gets a little older.

RE: In short
By mezman on 10/23/2007 2:45:50 PM , Rating: 2
Or you could completely wrap your kid in bubble wrap. And sand all the sharp corners off your furniture.

RE: In short
By TomZ on 10/23/2007 2:51:08 PM , Rating: 2
If you think today's parents are being too paranoid, you might find the following article interesting:

RE: In short
By Alexstarfire on 10/23/2007 4:30:06 PM , Rating: 2
Man, I'm 20 and chew on a lot of stuff regularly. It's not like a bite pieces off, but things like paper clips, the end of pens/pencils, usually find there way to my mouth. I'm sure pen/pencils don't have those kind of chemicals in it since many people chew on them. I wonder if I'm at risk. Well, since I've been chewing on stuff for years and haven't had any problems, cept a kidney stone which was caused by something else, I think I can at least say that it's not as bad as they make it out to be, on what products are actually bad, or that ingesting these chemicals isn't as bad as they say it is.

Animals are great to show what MAY cause problems with humans, but since they aren't a human it's possible that it affects them but not us. It could also affect them in different ways too.

RE: In short
By Zoomer on 10/24/2007 9:45:31 AM , Rating: 2
Well, that's really more of a personl problem. Where has personal responsibility gone?

If I drink weed killer, I don't expect to sue the manufacturer if I throw up. Or die. Same for drinking 160 proof liquors; I won't expect to live if I chug a whole bottle down.

RE: In short
By TomZ on 10/23/2007 2:50:02 PM , Rating: 2
My daughter has a habit of chewing on things. She could take an ear-bud and chew on it while I am not looking. Maybe I will consider getting an iPod after she gets a little older.

The choking hazard is probably 1000X more serious than the chemical hazard, so it would be wise to keep it out of reach in any case.

RE: In short
By Martimus on 10/24/2007 3:45:26 PM , Rating: 2
She isn't one to swallow tihngs, just chew on them. I don't worry too much about choking on such a small part. It isn't big enough to cause much constrition in the throat.

RE: In short
By tmouse on 10/26/2007 10:29:06 AM , Rating: 2
The chemicals cannot be absorbed by chewing. The acidic enviorment of the stomach MAY leech SOME of the halides out but this is also just speculation. So don't worry about the chemicals the choking hazard is somthing else.

I actually agree with greenpeace....
By Moishe on 10/23/2007 10:00:54 AM , Rating: 2
In the sense that we want to eliminate all harmful stuff from all products. Saving our planet is a noble goal that all humans can really get behind.


My problem with Greenpeace is the same problem I have with a lot of activists.
1.) They don't live the life that they preach. Noble causes are frequently undermined by the very people who are pushing those causes.

2.) They have no room for reasonable progress. With Greenpeace it's usually all or nothing and if you're not all the way in radical, then they will bash you, even if you're better than others and trying to improve your product over time.

Nature is important and worth preserving, but anyone with a shred of common sense knows that change cannot happen overnight and some of the barriers are not a matter of human choice. If Greenpeace were to cut people some slack, only verbally attack the worst offenders, and only praise the best ones then there might be some reason to listen to them. Add to that living what they preach and they might get somewhere.

In short, nobody wants to give and give for no praise, and nobody wants to follow a hypocrite. That's just reality.

RE: I actually agree with greenpeace....
By TomZ on 10/23/2007 10:06:10 AM , Rating: 3
The personal hypocrisy is not a problem for me. The problem I personally have with Greenpeace is simply their illogical aversion to nuclear power. They are in denial of the reality that nuclear power is the best of the reasonable alternatives for large-scale energy production. Specifically, less nuclear would mean more coal and gas - and how can that be good for the environment?

RE: I actually agree with greenpeace....
By Moishe on 10/23/2007 10:13:28 AM , Rating: 5
Nuclear is the way to go but they're not interested in advancing tech in a green way, they're interested in reducing human impact on the planet and if it hurts humans, that's generally OK with them.

I find it extremely annoying that we can have a viable (imperfect, but much better) alternative and it will never be good enough because it's not perfect. It shows that the movement is less about "green" and more about "anti-human".

RE: I actually agree with greenpeace....
By TomZ on 10/23/2007 10:24:13 AM , Rating: 2
I agree - it seems that Greenpeace would prefer to have more human suffering (e.g., due to lack of electricity) than more environmental impact. That's just stupid IMO.

RE: I actually agree with greenpeace....
By Spuke on 10/23/2007 12:14:26 PM , Rating: 2
"What do all men with power want? More power." The goal is for Greenpeace (other organizations have similar goals) to be in charge of the world and dictate to us "idiots" what we can and cannot do. It doesn't really matter how they live because, in their eyes, WE are the cause of human suffering and environmental damage, not them. They believe that because they are actively doing something to promote change so that abstains them from being part of the problem.

Although, these organizations appear to be benign (so that they are tolerated and even embraced), they are no less evil than the KKK because if they really had their own way, half of human population would be dead and the rest would be living in huts or caves under their rule.

All IMO.

RE: I actually agree with greenpeace....
By Ringold on 10/23/2007 3:09:55 PM , Rating: 2
If Sonny Purdue, Georgia Gov, is able to have Georgia declared a Federal Disaster Area and boots the Army Corps of Engineers off of Lake Lanier, just wait. A small army of Greenpeace-style zealots will descend like lotus. Nevermind that Lake Lanier is 80-ish days from depletion (and the Atlanta area has no other viable source of water), there are endangered mussels or sturgeon down-stream that might die off if the dams were closed. Apparently, Mussels > People.

Of course, there's a coal fired plant down stream as well here in Florida that needs some type of minimum water flow out of Lanier. Things could be about to get hot in the South.

RE: I actually agree with greenpeace....
By Alexstarfire on 10/23/2007 7:38:51 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I've got to say that if the water is just for cooling purposes that sea water works just as well. People can't drink straight sea water you know.

RE: I actually agree with greenpeace....
By TomZ on 10/23/2007 8:21:46 PM , Rating: 2
Seawater is already commonly used for cooling in electrical power plants - hence why many are located near the coastline. This does, however, require special materials to be used for the pipe since sea water is so corrosive to metal.

By Zoomer on 10/24/2007 5:23:56 PM , Rating: 2
Have they looked into using the excess heat for desalination?

There you go, fresh water + plant cooling.

RE: I actually agree with greenpeace....
By calyth on 10/23/2007 4:58:13 PM , Rating: 2
I recall the irony of people trying to set up green power for poor places like Africa.
IIRC, a clinic's only lightbulb and the fridge housing vaccine is powered by solar and wind, but there's only enough juice to run one or the other. Without lighting or without the fridge, the clinic would be useless.

These radical environmentalists insists on the poor countries not to use their natural resources to ensure survival of their own citizens, while they themselves are living far more indulgent lives.

They can call me a polluting bastard, but I won't stop others trying to get the standard of living that I enjoy, even if it meant that there's more green work down the road. Let's make sure they stay alive long enough to actually make pollution matter to them.

By TomZ on 10/23/2007 5:13:04 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. Providing a reliable source of electricity has a big impact on one's standard of living. Denying people that due to hypersensitive environmental concerns is immoral.

By Kuroyama on 10/23/2007 9:29:19 PM , Rating: 2
Ever heard of candles? Use the power for the fridge and the candle for the light. In any case, solar and wind power in Africa are usually promoted for places in which there is no power grid (i.e. most of Africa), and so for the most part it is not that the environmentalists are taking away the previous energy source but that they are providing the first energy source.

“Give a man a diesel generator and fuel; you have given him power for today [but not fuel for next week]. Give a man solar power; and you have given him energy for 20 years”

By ksherman on 10/23/2007 12:21:49 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. I used to have an adversion to nuclear power, I blame many years of playing the old school Sim City's where there was always a good chance your power plant would blow up. But having read a lot about the power tech, I would have to say it is very impressive. Sure the radioactive waste sucks (why not launch it into the sun or something?!) but it seems to be WAY better than roasting coal. I applaud efforts to produce more nuclear power, though I also am hoping for nuclear fusion to take hold.

greenpeace is evil
By rika13 on 10/23/2007 3:00:16 PM , Rating: 3
greenpeace is against any and all techonological progress mankind has made

next they will complain that nasa is polluting space and that space junk will fall out of orbit, heat up on re-entry and this heat will boil the oceans increasing greenhouse gas emissions

the only nation that greenpeace hasnt criticized that i know of is north korea, then again if you look at a light map of earth you will find north korea has no lights; this is because north korea does not have electrical power, the people are so malnourished that the ones who dont die to famine end up joining the army to eat (which by the way, looks like an army of children due to stunted growth from said malnutrition)

greenpeace is worse than bin ladin, at least osama doesnt look respectable to anyone (well, anyone smart enough to NOT grab the SAW by the barrel after it has been fired)

RE: greenpeace is evil
By Zoomer on 10/24/2007 5:21:09 PM , Rating: 2
Then they should be for nuclear weapons, then. A large scale nuclear exchange will bring us back to the stone age!

By jskirwin on 10/23/2007 10:04:26 AM , Rating: 3
Is to get funds.

The tricky part about this issue is that you are dealing with two biased parties--industry analysts and environmental activists Greenpeace.

It points out that the report is coming from an industry analyst who stands to lose if BFRs are eliminated.

Nothing boosts a NPO or NGOs coffers like a press release that is picked up by major media outlets. And major media outlets tend to pick up only the most controversial press releases. Therefore there's a natural tendency for orgs to attack high profile targets (e.g. Apple) with dire warnings.

The need for funding biases Greenpeace as much as being in the pay of industry slants the statements of the industry analysts.

By EODetroit on 10/23/2007 4:19:24 PM , Rating: 3
Greenpeace points out that it used gas chromatography/mass spectrometry on the compounds as well, to try to better zero in on the chemical form of the bromine containing compounds. It points out that the polymeric form of BFRs makes it difficult, and perhaps impossible to precisely determine the compound's identity, using current testing methods.

Where I work (in IT) we (the chemists I work with, not me) do this kind of thing every day (for pharmaceutical companies). This would be a very very small and easy project according to one of the scientists I showed this article to. Another that I showed it to, who used to work at a company that made BFRs as their core business, said he could probably narrow which BFR it was down to 3 or 4 just based on his knowledge of field without even actually looking at it.

He also said running GC and mass spec on the stuff was rather amateurish. Something to do with the "polymeric" (they aren't really) molecules being too large to yield meaningful results. In short, the "current testing methods" Greenpeace used, probably done on the side by some grad student somewhere for free, were totally ineffective due to lack of knowing wtf they were doing.

Unfortunately Greenpeace most likely isn't interested in spending the thousands of dollars it costs to do a proper analysis of the BFR. In case I'm wrong, tell them to look us up at .

Tempest in a Teapot
By WaltFrench on 10/23/2007 7:38:42 PM , Rating: 3
How many trees, electrons and fleeting braincell capacity died as a result of this misbegotten story?

In Greenpeace's Exec Summary (yes, all that I read), they state that (1) with their rather modest tests, they did NOT find any infraction of society's safety standards, and (2) they wish Apple had moved faster towards the Greenpeace definition of Ecological Perfection.

Sounds like Greenpeace is reinforcing the widespread perception that all they do is generate publicity to help them pose as Guardians of the Environment, while Apple is acting in ITS best interest of producing products that are legal and reasonably safe. (Seems you'd have to burn the damn things to release much toxic material.)

Now, how do I compare this little gizmo with a few micrograms of some Bad Stuff against the tons of crap that we have China spew out as side effects of buying our outsourced manufacturing?

Not clear that iPhone materials affects me, or any of my six billion brethren on the planet, more than a tiny iota. (With a bias towards "it's just BS.") Maybe GP could be asked to shift its emphasis from PR generation to actually addressing the many genuine, even horrific environmental concerns that we are party to.

Liberal's bashing liberals
By hiscross on 10/23/2007 10:49:43 AM , Rating: 2
I find it rather amazing that GP is fighting Apple over such a matter.I wonder when mr. globalwarming will kick in and tell us the iphone is safe from melting icebergs or someting like that. Just love it when liberals basj each other and don't solve a single problem.

Dont drop your phone
By Shadowmaster625 on 10/23/2007 4:09:07 PM , Rating: 2
into Lake Lanier

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
Related Articles
Greenpeace Deems iPhone "Toxic"
October 16, 2007, 9:04 AM

Latest Headlines
Inspiron Laptops & 2-in-1 PCs
September 25, 2016, 9:00 AM
The Samsung Galaxy S7
September 14, 2016, 6:00 AM
Apple Watch 2 – Coming September 7th
September 3, 2016, 6:30 AM
Apple says “See you on the 7th.”
September 1, 2016, 6:30 AM

Most Popular ArticlesAre you ready for this ? HyperDrive Aircraft
September 24, 2016, 9:29 AM
Leaked – Samsung S8 is a Dream and a Dream 2
September 25, 2016, 8:00 AM
Inspiron Laptops & 2-in-1 PCs
September 25, 2016, 9:00 AM
Snapchat’s New Sunglasses are a Spectacle – No Pun Intended
September 24, 2016, 9:02 AM
Walmart may get "Robot Shopping Carts?"
September 17, 2016, 6:01 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki