Apple has taken a major step toward being an environmentally-conscious organisation with a new scheme of free computer take-back and recycling with the purchase of new Macs beginning in June.

The computer take-back scheme is available only in the US at present, following extensive campaigning by US environmentalists.

US customers who buy a new Mac through the Apple Store or Apple's retail stores will receive free shipping and environmentally friendly disposal of their old computer as part of the Apple Recycling program.

Equipment received by the program in the US is recycled domestically and no hazardous material is shipped overseas.

Apple heeds the environmental call

"Apple is committed to supporting our customers and protecting the environment throughout the entire product life cycle, from purchase through to retirement," said Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "Now we are making it even easier for Apple's customers to safely and affordably recycle their used computers and iPods."

This will extend Apple's existing US recycling program, which has recycled more than 90 per cent of electronic equipment collected since 2001, the company claims.

iPods are safe - now

Apple also announced that the fifth generation iPod, iPod nano and iPod shuffle are 100 per cent compliant with the upcoming restrictions of hazardous substances (RoHS) in California and Europe.

“Most of the materials covered by the RoHS directive, including mercury, cadmium, chromium VI and brominated flame retardants, were voluntarily eliminated from all Apple products years ago,” the company said.

iPod power adapters now also exceed Energy Star efficiency requirements and meet California's stricter appliance efficiency regulations, which take effect on July 1, 2008, the company said.