Apple has lost the city of San Francisco as a customer now that the tech company has withdrawn itself from a program granting environmentally friendly certification to electronic products, EPEAT (the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool). Now Apple, which has long touted its commitment to manufacturing environmentally friendly products, could lose the business of a client with even bigger accounts, the federal government.
Politico reports that federal officials who address sustainability met on Wednesday to discuss whether to continue purchasing Apple products. A government source noted that “federal procurement decisions for fiscal 2013 are being made now” and that Apple’s about-face about EPEAT certification could be a setback for federal efforts to to buy environmentally friendly products.
The city of San Francisco and the federal government are not alone in rethinking their use of Apple products. Many large corporations and universities have committed to purchasing products with EPEAT certification and are reconsidering buying Apple’s not-so-green-as-we-have-been-thinking devices.
The University of California at Berkeley’s interim associate vice chancellor for information technology and chief information officer, Lyle Nevels, said that “We are concerned about environmental protection and sustainability, and that’s why we want to understand Apple’s decision to go in another direction.” Nevels emphasized that, for all that iPads have become so popular, “in university settings, laptops and desktop machines are still kings.”
Apple actually helped to develop EPEAT’s standards so its withdrawal from the certification program is all the more notable. To justify its change of course, Apple has been pointing to its webpage about its environmental footprint and how it is an industry leader in reporting greenhouse gas emissions, while sidestepping the issue of why its iPhones, iPads and the new MacBook Pro with Retina display no longer meet EPEAT criteria. The reason: These products cannot be recycled because their parts (batteries, cases, etc.) are glued together, to meet Apple’s design specifications for smaller, thinner devices.
A Portland-based nonprofit, the Green Electronics Council, runs EPEAT. Besides companies including the Ford Motor Company and institutions including Yale University and Penn State University, EPEAT certification is sought for products purchased by the governments of Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the state of New York and the cities of San Jose, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Seattle.
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