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Steve Jobs promises to make Apple "Greener"

In a response to an international environmental organization, Greenpeace’s claims that Apple Inc. is less environmentally conscious than others in the industry, Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs Wednesday issued a public denial of claims, saying his company is an industry leader in removing toxic chemicals from its products and promoting recycling.

In an open letter posted on Apple's Web site Wednesday afternoon, Jobs defended the computer maker's record, and described where Apple stands with respect to toxic chemicals in the manufacturing process and the recycling of waste.

"I was surprised to learn that in many cases Apple is ahead of, or will soon be ahead of, most of its competitors in these areas. Whatever other improvements we need to make, it is certainly clear that we have failed to communicate the things that we are doing well," Jobs wrote.

Dell, Gateway, HP and Lenovo continue to ship CRT displays, displays which carry approximately 3-pounds of poisonous lead in every unit, while Apple has totally “eliminated the use of CRTs in mid-2006," Jobs notes.

Comparing company’s recycling process with other firms Jobs said Apple recycled 13 million pounds of e-waste in 2006, which is equal to 9.5% of the weight of all products it sold seven years ago, whereas the latest figures from Hewlett Packard and Dell are each around 10% per year.

Apple expects this percentage to grow to 13% in 2007 and to 20% in 2008, while neither of its opponents has yet disclosed plans to grow this percentage in the future.

The Cupertino, California-based maker of the ubiquitous iPod outlined a number of new steps it will take to turn its image from that of green loser to green leader.

The computer maker plans to completely eliminate the use of arsenic in all of its displays by the end of 2008, and the company will eventually stop using mercury, polyvinyl chloride and brominated flame retardants and will transition to LED backlighting whenever possible, Jobs wrote.

"We plan to introduce our first Macs with LED backlight technology in 2007," he writes, also revealing company’s plan to introduce the “first displays using arsenic-free glass in 2007".

He also confirmed plans to address other environmental issues, such as energy efficiency and the overall carbon “footprint” of Apple products. Jobs claimed that by 2010, Apple may be recycling a larger portion of the products it sells than either Dell or HP. He said Apple is on track in US to take back old iPods for "environmentally friendly disposal," and promised to expand that effort to stores worldwide.

In addition, Apple will change its communications strategy and be more proactive in promoting its environmental goals in 2008 and beyond, Jobs said.

"It is generally not Apple's policy to trumpet our plans for the future," Jobs wrote, concluding that "Today is the first time we have openly discussed our plans to become a greener Apple and it will not be the last.”

The memo comes as activists named Apple as the computer maker with the worst environmental track record, and targeted the company for lackluster recycling initiatives.

Environmental group Greenpeace responded on Wednesday to Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ open letter on environmental issues, saying it will boost Apple's score in its June "Guide to Greener Electronics," probably to 5 out of 10, up from 2.7 currently.

"Apple's new commitment to environmental transparency and the phase out of the worst chemicals in its product range are genuine steps forward," Greenpeace spokesman Steve Smith said in a statement. "We look forward to Apple going further to green their existing products."