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Apple Goes Green, Big Time

You gotta go green to make green. It's no secret that Apple has embarked on a major environmental push these last few years: At the conclusion of any product roll-out, CEO Steve Jobs typically talks about the environmentally friendly materials and production processes used, and the priority environmental responsibility has become for the folks in Cupertino. It certainly doesn't hurt that Nobel Peace Prize winner - and environmental activist Al Gore sits on Apple's board.

But a new web site by Apple that went live Thursday is detailing the steps the company is taking, and the effect its initiatives are having, in a dramatic way.

Head to www.apple.com/environmentand you'll see why once the embarrassed whipping boy of Greenpeace is now held up by the organization as the example the rest of the industry ought to follow.

Some of the factoids sound pretty staggering. Simply in energy efficiency alone, Apple is beginning to separate itself from the likes of Hewlett-Packardand Dell .And the innovations aren't simply about energy efficiency, but cost-savings too, and that can translate into meaningful improvements in more investor-oriented priorities like profits and margins. As an example, take the 20 inch iMac introduced last Spring. Apple engineers improved the energy efficiency of the device by 30 percent, particularly when it sits in idle mode, cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 18 percent. Apple calculated that over the course of a 4 year period, or the anticipated lifetime of the iMac, the energy improvements alone from this one product would be enough to offset all the emissions from ALL Apple facilities around the world for more than a year.

There's more: That new 20 inch iMac uses 55 percent less material than its first-generation, 15-inch cousin. That material savings alone works out to 10,000 metric tons, or the equivalent, Apple says, of 7,200 Toyota Priuses, for every 1 million iMacs sold. Smaller packaging also turns out to be a big fuel saver. The packaging for the 13-inch MacBookPro is 41 percent less than the MacBook that came before it. What does that mean? Apple can now fit 50 percent more boxes on a pallet. Cramming more boxes on a pallet, means more pallets on a 747 flight when Apple flies its Macs to the US for sale. Think about that: Just from a reduction in packaging, Apple says it saves one 747 flight for every 32,000 units it ships, and Apple ships millions of them. That's a lot of flights it doesn't need to book anymore.

Apple is bragging about all this because environmentally friendly is so cool nowadays, and Apple will accentuate any selling point it can to keep its Mac sales momentum going. It can also take this opportunity to rub HP's nose in it, which itself was on the receiving end of a Greenpeace protest in July, which featured actor William Shatner calling EVERY single HP employee and leaving this voicemail: "Please ask your leader, Mark Hurd, to make computers that are free of toxic PVC plastic and brominated flame retardents -- just as Apple has done." (Listen to the full audio here: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/news/hp-reminder-28-07-09)

Seems the whole environmentally friendly PC is a whole lot more than "PC" nowadays. It's become a key marketing strategy too, and Apple once again is separating itself from the rest.

Questions? Comments? TechCheck@cnbc.com

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