According to a report in the Wall Street Journal’s CIO Journal, Apple has withdrawn the EPEAT environmental certification from all its products. Apple apparently asked EPEAT to pull all its 39 certified desktop computers, monitors and laptops off the list of green products.
EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool), which was set up with funding from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is managed by the Green Electronics Council, is the leader in assessing lifecycle environmental standards. The programme evaluates computers and monitors on more than 50 environmental criteria. The certification has been expanding significantly in recent years, geographically, through global registration alliances and into new product areas. EPEAT now covers 41 countries, 45 participating manufacturers and more than 3,200 environmentally preferable electronic products.
The article suggests that one reason for Apple’s action may be that the company’s designs made it no longer able to comply with the EPEAT requirements. For example, some new MacBook Pro designs were almost impossible to disassemble for effective recycling.
Well this looks like Apple using its foot for target practice.
One of the real strengths of EPEAT is federal acquisition regulations in the US that require federal agencies to purchase at least 95% EPEAT-registered products in relevant categories. Because of this lead, governments outside the US have looked to EPEAT’s certification and the private sector is also increasingly choosing its green label. There is no doubt that this will have some impact on Apple sales, but the company is relying less-and-less on traditional computers and more on phones and tablets, so it probably reckons the financial impact will not be significant.
Apple has had a chequered history of environmental action (search this blog for some examples), often choosing to go its own way, and this decision adds to the mixed messages it sends out. It seems a shame that the company’s great design should be at the expense of the environment, which impacts us all, whether Apple users or not. There will no doubt be a backlash (Greenpeace’s next Guide to Greener Electronics should make interesting reading) probably more outside the US than in its home country, though.