Apple has publicly stated that dropping the EPEAT rating from its products was a “mistake” and that its eligible products are back on the list.
At the end of June, Apple had withdrawn its 39 eligible products from EPEAT, the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool. The public response was swift and not at all impressed, for all that Apple talked up its webpage about its environmental footprint and noted that it is an industry leader in reporting greenhouse gas emissions. The city of San Francisco said it would no longer buy Macs and the federal government, the University of California at Berkeley and numerous universities and companies said they were deliberating if they should stop buying Apple products.
“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.”
As Ars Technica details, Mansfield specifically cited a number of ways that Apple’s products are green, due to its removing toxins including brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) from them. All Apple products “[meet] or [exceed] the current EnergyStar 5.2 standards set by the US government,” Mansfield noted.
The main reason behind Apple’s withdrawal from the EPEAT program was, it is widely thought, that star products including the third-generation iPad and the MacBookPro Retina cannot be readily disassembled with common tools.
Ars Technica underscored how public anger played a role in Apple’s change of stance:
Apple initially defended its decision by pointing out that it holds its products to environmental standards that aren’t even measured by EPEAT, but it seems the general public’s reaction to the news was just too much for the company. It’s not often Apple ends up backing out of a major corporate decision so quickly after it was announced (and some could argue that such a thing would never happen under former CEO Steve Jobs, who was known for his stubbornness). It’s clear, however, that the company saw some value in re-joining EPEAT—if only to save face in light of the poor public reaction.
EPEAT has also written a letter about Apple’s decision to return to the certification program.
While it is commendable that Apple has admitted its mistake, its departure from and hasty return to EPEAT is a reminder to the public about how important it is to tell Apple that users of its products care a lot about the impact of their iDevices on the environment. Electronics are worth far more when they are not only shiny but green, too.
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