Apple Snubs Green Shareholders, Refuses Sustainability Reporting

Fresh from our praise of Apple’s accidental green cred, the computer giant’s board of directors plans to oppose two upcoming shareholder resolutions concerning sustainability. EETimes reports that the board is advising shareholders to reject a call for the company to set up a “board committee on sustainability” as well as a call from accountability group As You Sow which wants Apple to issue a 2010 sustainability report similar to that being issued by Dell, HP, IBM and many others. You can read the whole proxy statement in PDF form here (the relevant stuff starts on page 51).

Both requests seem pretty reasonable and standard these days, so why is Apple recommending rejection? In its opposition statement, the board affirms the company’s commitment to sustainability and rightly points out a number of accomplishments the company has lately made. It also points out that it has already been publishing a great deal of product & carbon footprint information on its environment website, including a stated claim to “consider” the global reporting initiative (GRI) guidelines.

So does Apple just want to “think different?” Or does As You Sow have a legitimate gripe?

John Laumer points out that few people actually read these reports (at least the printed versions) and that putting one together might be a distraction. I suspect that it’s more about the effort required to standardize reporting to match what other companies are doing – comparing apples to oranges… or Dells in this case. Is standardization worth the extra effort? Are Apple’s current reporting initiatives faulty?

What do you think about this one? Are you an Apple shareholder? How would you vote?

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of TriplePundit.com

TriplePundit.com has since grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for TreeHugger.com, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.