According to the Mac Observer, at Apple’s yearly shareholder meeting, CEO Tim Cook resoundingly rejected a suggestion by the conservative think tank National Center for Public Policy Research that Apple not invest in renewable energy if it wasn’t profitable. In what is described as an emotional response Cook said of the suggestion:
When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind,” he said, “I don’t consider the bloody ROI.” He said that the same thing about environmental issues, worker safety, and other areas where Apple is a leader.
In the end the suggestion by NCPPR only received 2.95% of the vote from shareholders. Cook told shareholders who are only interested in ROI that their money wasn’t wanted: “If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock.”
Greenpeace has been focusing heavily on Apple in recent years, blasting them for their “dirty data”. In their most recent Guide to Greener Electronics (which is more than a year old) Greenpeace gave Apple a score of only 4.6, putting Apple in sixth place behind competitors such as Nokia, Dell, and HP. This report predates Apple’s North Carolina data centre coming online. The North Carolina data centre draws 100% of it’s energy from renewable sources. Apple even built a huge solar farm only a few miles away. This sustainability project was at the heart of NCPPR’s issue with ROI.
In a slight turnabout, Greenpeace recently praised Apple for its commitment to reducing (and ultimately eliminating) the use of conflict minerals in its products.
Under Cook, Apple has shown leadership in several areas beyond renewable energy. The new “trashcan” Mac Pro is the first Mac to be made in the US in several decades. Apple has also been at the forefront in combatting child labor, and other labor abuses, in Asia.
Cook’s remarks are a good indicator of Apple’s direction on several issues. It’d be nice if other CEOs could be so candid.