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Apple turns back on environment, exits EPEAT register

Karen Haslam | July 10, 2012
Federal agencies and educational institutions in the US may be no longer able to buy Apple products since Apple has decided that it will no longer put its products up for assessment by the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT).

Federal agencies and educational institutions in the US may be no longer able to buy Apple products since Apple has decided that it will no longer put its products up for assessment by the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT).

EPEAT is an environmental rating that helps identify greener computers and other electronic equipment. To qualify for the rating, products meet environmental 'performance categories' that include product lifetime, toxic materials, and recyclability of components and packaging materials.

According to EPEAT director of outreach Sarah O'Brien corporations like Ford and HSBC require CIOs to purchase computers from sources that are EPEAT certified. In addition, the US government requires 95% of the electronics it purchases be EPEAT certified.

In addition, 222 out of 300 American universities surveyed in 2010 said that their IT departments give preference to EPEAT certified computers, O'Brien told Wall Street Journal's CIO Journal.

According to iFixIt it is likely that Apple has pulled out of EPEAT because its recently launched MacBook Pro with Retina Display is so difficult to disassemble that it is ineligible for certification.

EPEAT sources told iFixIt that Apple's mobile design direction is in conflict with the intended direction of the standard. They noted that the standard rates a product's "disassemble-ability," which is an important consideration for recycling. According to the source: "External enclosures, chassis, and electronic subassemblies shall be removable with commonly available tools or by hand."

iFixIt notes that they were unable to remove the battery from the MacBook Pro with Retina Display. The report states: "When we originally tore down the Retina MacBook Pro, we could not separate the battery from the upper case. The next day, after a lot of elbow grease, we were finally able to get them apart - but in the process punctured the battery, leaking hazardous goo all over." This is an issue for EPEAT because recyclers need to take out hazardous components such as batteries before sending computers through their shredders.

CEO of EPEAT Robert Frisbee told the Wall Street Journal's CIO Journal: "They [Apple] said their design direction was no longer consistent with EPEAT requirements."

Frisbee added: "They were important supports and we are disappointed that they don't want their products measured by this standard anymore."

 

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