Apple Reverses EPEAT Decision – With New Listings, to Boot

by | Jul 16, 2012

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Apple has rejoined the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool registry just days after withdrawing its 39 desktop computers, monitors and laptops – and its MacBook Pro with Retina Display, widely rumored to have been the reason for the company’s departure, has been listed as Gold-certified in the registry.

Apple’s decision to remove its products from EPEAT’s sustainability rating system was a mistake, Bob Mansfield, the company’s senior vice president of hardware engineering, said in a letter posted on the company’s website.

On Friday, all eligible Apple products were placed back on EPEAT, a move that will allow governments and universities basing their purchasing decisions on the rating system to continue to buy computers, monitors and laptops from the Cupertino, Calf.-based company. San Francisco’s city government had said last week that it would no longer be able to buy these products.

The company went a step further and gave Gold labels to the four models of its MacBook Pro with Retina display, the same device that teardown site iFixit said last month had a battery glued to the case and was the least repairable they’d ever taken apart. Online sources had speculated that this tough disassembly was behind Apple’s withdrawal from the standard – since under EPEAT, manufacturers must show that recyclers can easily disassemble their products and separate batteries and other toxic components.

Although the MacBook Pro has a Gold label today, this doesn’t mean Apple will maintain that rating, Fast Company reported. EPEAT’s certifications are based on a self-declaration system, which is then backed by post-market verification, Fast Company said.

But Mansfield said that Apple’s products go above and beyond EPEAT’s basic requirements. Apple has led the industry in removing harmful toxins, such as brominated flame retardants and polyvinyl chloride, and its entire product line exceeds the government’s Energy Star 5.2 standard, Mansfield said. The Apple executive called for the IEEE 1680.1 standard, on which the EPEAT rating system is based, to be upgraded to include some stricter requirements, such as avoiding the use of toxins.

EPEAT CEO Robert Frisbee said in an open letter posted Friday that the organization was looking forward to Apple’s thoughts on ongoing standards development. He didn’t provide a timeline or make any specific commitments to how the standard might evolve.

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