Jul 11, 2012

Why did Apple withdraw from EPEAT?

Apple dropped its green EPEAT environmental standard, and claimed that they use their own environmental standards that are stricter than those of EPEAT. Well, that's convenient, and may even be true, but if so why not also meet the EPEAT standard? Some governmental agencies require the EPEAT green standard be met for purchases, and already the City of San Francisco has said that they won't purchase any more Apple products because of this. I'm sure that there will be others. It seems like this could be a move that costs Apple some contracts, and frankly I've always viewed Apple as a pretty environmentally conscious company, so why did they pull out of EPEAT?


Apparently, Apple changed their mind about leaving EPEAT after getting an earful from their environmentally conscious customer base.  A notice from a senior VP of hardware engineering was posted on Apple's website today that said the company has returned to EPEAT: "We've recently heard from many loyal Apple customers who were disappointed to learn that we had removed our products from the EPEAT rating system. I recognize that this was a mistake. Starting today, all eligible Apple products are back on EPEAT." 


Probably because part of the EPEAT standard is intended to prevent products from being essentially disposable, so there are requirements for repairability of products, and all the recent tear-downs of new Apple products have been pretty consistent with the opinion that they are not easy to repair.  Now, is it fair that even if Apple exceeds standards in other areas, it doesn't matter if they fail in the repairability category?  Maybe, maybe not.  From a practical matter, they have to weigh whether it is cost effective, or even practical, to change design and manufacturing to meet the EPEAT standard in this one category. They may lose some contracts, but if looked at from a cost/benefit perspective, is that enough of a loss to make it financially worthwhile?  It seems that Apple may think it isn't.     

Apple released a statement to the Loop about this.

Apple responds to EPEAT concerns

"Apple on Tuesday responded to concerns that it asked to have its products removed from EPEAT, the U.S. government’s list of environmentally friendly products.

“Apple takes a comprehensive approach to measuring our environmental impact and all of our products meet the strictest energy efficiency standards backed by the US government, Energy Star 5.2,” Apple representative Kristin Huguet, told The Loop. “We also lead the industry by reporting each product’s greenhouse gas emissions on our website, and Apple products are superior in other important environmental areas not measured by EPEAT, such as removal of toxic materials.”

It’s important to note that in addition to not measuring toxins and other environmental areas, EPEAT also doesn’t measure smartphones or tablets. Clearly these are two areas that are vitally important for Apple and not covered by EPEAT.

Companies like Dell have 171 products listed on EPEAT, but yet if you look on Dell’s Web site, none of their computers are even Energy Star Compliant.

By its own admission, the EPEAT certifications are old."
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