EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) today released the results of tests on five different ‘ultra-thin’ notebooks. to see if they conform with the organisation’s green rating requirements. Products from Apple, Lenovo, Samsung and Toshiba were investigated and all met the criteria.
EPEAT is the green electronics rating system based on the IEEE 1680 family of Environmental Assessment Standards. The programme evaluates computer desktops, laptops and monitors on 51 environmental criteria and awards EPEAT Bronze, Silver or Gold certification. EPEAT now covers 41 countries, 45 participating manufacturers and more than 3,200 environmentally preferable electronic products.
The reason that this particular verification process is in the news is because of Apple’s actions earlier this year, when the company withdrew from EPEAT, i.e. stopped offering products for assessment. The decision was quickly reversed after widespread criticism. At the time it was suggested that one reason for Apple’s action might have been that the company’s designs, particularly for very thin laptops, made products unable to comply with EPEAT. For example, some new MacBook Pro designs were almost impossible to disassemble for effective recycling, with batteries difficult to remove.
EPEAT’s new findings come after a review of a number of specific criteria. Areas of concern included whether products could be upgraded, if tools were commonly available to accomplish upgrades, and whether materials of concern including batteries could be easily removed from ultrathin products. EPEAT tried to establish product conformity from published data, and also disassembled products for testing. As a result, the test lab recommended that all the products be found to satisfy EPEAT requirements. There’s more detail here.
Review: Well it makes it sound like Apple’s withdrawal from EPEAT was a storm in a teacup. The company didn’t really have anything to worry about.
Nonetheless, PCWorld quotes a statement from Greenpeace IT analyst Casey Harrell saying that "EPEAT’s announcement today to include computers with difficult-to-replace batteries in its green electronics registry will result in less recycling and more e-waste."