October 17, 2008 by Steven Castle
Is Apple’s new aluminum MacBook really green? The notebook’s chassis is sculpted out of a single piece of aluminum, reducing the number of parts and eliminating nasty things like brominated flame retardants found in plastic computer shells.
Apple says the new MacBooks are arsenic free, mercury free, PVC free, Energy Star compliant, the screen is LED backlit and uses 30-percent less energy, the products use 41-percent smaller packaging, and have earned an EPEAT Gold rating.
That’s pretty darned good. But some, like green site Treehugger, are asking what happens to all that aluminum that is cut away in the milling process.
“Apple apparently is savvy about needing to treat that aluminum carefully,” Treehugger writes. “They report that through each stage [they’re] cleaning, collecting, and recycling the material. While recycled aluminum uses up about 5 percent of the energy it takes to make something out of new aluminum (counting all the effort it takes from the mine to the manufacturing plant), reprocessing all that aluminum is very energy intensive. Just how much energy is put into taking that 2 pounds of aluminum, remelting it, reforming it, and recarving it for another MacBook? All that can add up, and we’re interested in learning more.
“Sounds as if the aluminum goes through some extensive milling steps, 13 in all. That means quite a lot of energy, and quite a lot of clean up is involved in the making of a single MacBook Pro.”
The 13-inch MacBook with the aluminum “unibody” starts at $1,299 for a 2GHz, 160GB configuration, and the 15-inch MacBook Pro (2.4GHz, 250GB) start at $1,999.
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Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates
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