Apple Stepping Up Environmental Friendliness with New Halogen-Free Cables

The London Evening Standard reports (via GigaOM) that Apple is requiring cable supplier Volex to spend up to $6 million retooling its production lines to eliminate halogens from the power and USB cables used in the company's products. The move will make the cables less toxic to the environment upon disposal.

Apple is the biggest customer of Volex, 23%-owned by billionaire financier Nat Rothschild, which makes the power cables and USB leads used in everything from laptops to iPhones and iPads.

But the US firm is on a drive to move its products towards halogen-free power cables, which are less harmful to the environment when disposed of.

The start-up costs in designing and making the new cables will cost it up to $6 million in the current financial year, Volex said today, although, stripping out these one-off costs, profits will be in line with market expectation.

Apple has in the past received criticism from environmental advocacy groups such as Greenpeace, but the company has been performing better in recent surveys as it has continued to shift to more environmentally-friendly alternatives and has become more open about its efforts on the environmental front.

apple environmental measuring performance
In 2009, the company launched an expanded environmental footprint section of its website to help provide information on its impact and progress in the area.

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Top Rated Comments

G4er? Avatar
162 months ago
One of the biggest ways Apple could go green would be to have a mid range desktop where you don't have to throw away a perfectly good screen when you buy the next model.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gmcalpin Avatar
162 months ago
I can already hear people championing Apple as if they're the first company to adopt such a practice...
Congratulations. You have successfully complained about the voices in your head being douchebags on the internet.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kalsta Avatar
162 months ago
That's great Apple, but how about making an iOS device charger with cable that doesn't fall apart where it attaches to the 30-pin connector‎? Less chargers being replaced = less manufacturing, saving materials and energy. 'Reduce' is always better than recycle. Oh, and less of this too…

Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Small White Car Avatar
162 months ago
I'm not dismissing any issues you may have had with Apple's cables, but I find it perplexing that some people have these problems all the time and others have never, ever had them (like myself or any of my friends).

I dunno how you all get away with it. It's happened to the majority of the cables I own. Here's my desk at work, right now:



That cable sits on my desk its entire life. It doesn't travel or go in and out of bags. I never pull it out of the phone by tugging the cable. It just sits there. And yet, that happens.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kalsta Avatar
162 months ago
The new ones need replacing every few months (meaning I have to drive to the Apple store too), which is more eco-friendly than having one cable last for 5 years is it?

Right. Speaking of cars, they illustrate the point well… A significant amount of a car's lifetime carbon emissions comes from its manufacture. So generally, its better for the environment to keep an old car on the road longer, rather than produce a new, more efficient one. Longer lasting stuff = a reduction in energy and waste.

It's also interesting how Apple touts glass as such a highly recyclable material, and that it starting placing a sheet of it in front of every display not too long after all the hubbub about them not using environmentally friendly materials. But in reality, the glass (in all but the touchscreen devices) is entirely unnecessary. It simply adds more material to the device, which is against the 'reduce' principle. (Not to mention the reflections it adds to the display—worse than even a normal gloss display.) So you have to wonder how much of this is genuine concern for the environment, and how much is just marketing.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Small White Car Avatar
162 months ago
I have had many Apple cables through the years and never had a problem with any of them. Based on the cable damage shown in your picture, it appears you have forcefully unplugged them by pulling on the cable instead of the connector.

Yes, I, and dozens of other posters here at Mac rumors have been lying to you for years. We've been pulling on the cables and telling you we don't.

You got us.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)