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Steve Jobs expands on Apple's green goals

In a new interview, Apple's co-founder explained his company's environment-centric public relations push, and shared advice provided by former Vice President Al Gore.

Steve Jobs, along with Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, spoke with BusinessWeek to highlight Apple's environmentally conscious ways. Jobs acknowledged that Greenpeace's targeting of his company years ago played a part in the Mac maker promoting its green focus in public.

After Greenpeace criticized Apple for the use of toxic chemicals in its products, Jobs said he turned to Gore, a member of his company's board of directors and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change. Gore reportedly told Jobs to do what he does, and not get into a "mud-slinging war" with the environmental organization.

In response, Apple began mentioning its products' environmental impact with a scorecard at each keynote. Jobs argued that his company has always been green, but in the past it didn't make it a point to mention it in public. He said the company's tight-lipped approach, particularly on public policy issues, hurt its image with environmental organizations.

"We tend to report rather than predict," Jobs told BusinessWeek. "You won't see us out there saying what the PC is going to look like in 2016. We quietly go try to invent the PC for 2016."

It was the second time this week the publication profiled Apple's environmentally friendly push. Another feature highlighted the company's reporting of hardware carbon emissions, a new disclosure that was revealed by the company this week. That story also included comment from Jobs.

The use of Apple products by consumers accounts for more than half of the Cupertino, Calif., corporation's annual 10.2 million tons of carbon emissions. The company's environmental Web site states that less than 5 percent of the company's emissions come from manufacturing facilities, while more than 95 percent of Apple's greenhouse gases are from the products they make.

Cook said that companies often focus on the wrong issues. He gave the example of installing motion detectors in a conference room, to automatically turn off the lights in a room when no one is there. But the real carbon footprint, he said, comes from the products themselves.

"Making products cleaner involves real engineering," Cook said. "It's about innovating, and it's hard work."