Is the Apple iPad Green Enough?

The way technology is evolving, today’s latest electronics are doing their best to become “green” products. Apple’s new iPad is a revolutionary piece of technology that is far more advanced than any other tablet PCs. With a starting price of only $499, this item is definitely going to be a must have for a lot of consumers. Still there is an underlying question that not too many people have asked. What effects will the new iPad have on the environment? Apple has stated that the iPad does have environmental features, but that doesn’t mean you are going to see Captain Planet walking around with one.

Truth be told the Apple iPad is about as green as a piece of technology like this can get. In Apple’s favor the iPad is an e-reader, allowing someone to store and read all of their once paper documents on the device. This will definitely reduce the amount of trees being cut down for the use of printing. The iPad also doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals: no arsenic, no mercury, no BFRs (brominated flame retardants), no PVC. When someone is ready to move on the entire device is highly recyclable. Apple also decided to go with a LCD-backlit display instead of OLED, which requires more energy. In addition the iPad has a 10 hour battery life, which means that it won’t need to be constantly plugged in for a recharge. With all these green features in mind, Apple’s iPad may seem like a state of the art environmental savior.

It is safe to say that the iPad is a green product compared to most of today’s electronics. However, lets look past all those nice green features for a moment. The production of any electronics like this has a huge environmental impact. Add that to the fact the iPad will be in high demand more and more rare metals are going to be used. Global supply chains are needed to ship the materials to the productions site and then again when they are ready to hit the market. The biggest problem is that the iPad is just an addition not a replacement. The iPad is designed to be a supplement to other devices. It doesn’t aim to replace full sized desktop or laptops and not too many people are going to replace their iPod with the 9 inch iPad. Even if in some instances the iPad does replace everyday electronics, where are those going to go? More than likely they end up in a landfill contributing to the e-waste problem. Plus who is to say that everyone is going to recycle their iPad once it reaches its end life. Sure it is highly recyclable, but with no stable e-waste recycling laws in place, iPads could become a direct source of e-waste.

Although it is green, the iPad represents another device to be owned. It begins with the metals used in production, to the energy consumed by manufacturing and shipping, to the burden of its disposal, is the iPad really doing planet earth a favor? It is easy to overlook all the hidden problems when Apple does add green specifications to the iPad. However, when looked at fully from the production to the end-life the iPad may just end up being a problematic device for the environment.

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