For several years Apple was criticized for its lack of effort to make its company and its products more eco-friendly. Steve Jobs himself felt the need to write an 1,800 word post on Apple’s website regarding the topic.

But Apple has come a long way since then. It’s now one of the greenest electronics companies on the planet. And that’s a difficult task, considering it has to police dozens of overseas suppliers that help make its products…

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Chinese environmental leaders recently praised the iPhone-makers for meeting with them earlier this week to discuss pollution problems with 15 of the company’s suppliers.

The publication passes on a statement from Ma Jun, one of China’s best-known green activists:

“This is a major step forward. They asked these companies to take corrective plans and give a timeline, and Apple will verify whether all these issues have been resolved.”

LiLi, another environmental activist, had similar praise for Apple, saying, “Our ability to sit down together shows they have changed and actively want to move forward on this.”

Apple’s attitude has definitely changed. You might recall a report that the company was looking to build an enormous solar energy farm to power its recently-built data center in North Carolina.

Whether it’s doing so for politics or brand image, or even just to fulfill its civic duty, Apple seems to be pretty committed to reducing its carbon footprint.