Apple pulls products from government-backed 'green electronics' list

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Apple in June asked government-backed electronics standard-setting group EPEAT to remove 39 desktops, laptops and monitors from the body's list of environmentally friendly devices including legacy models that already hold the certification.

In a report from CIO Journal, EPEAT CEO Robert Frisbee said an Apple representative requested that the company's already-cleared products be taken down from the registry which carries a list of electronic devices certified to be recyclable, energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, or EPEAT, was the result of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant awarded to the Zero Waste Alliance (ZWA) for an electronics environmental assessment program. In 2007 an executive order was issued requiring 95% of all federal agency purchases to be EPEAT-registered products and many manufacturers routinely strive to attain the group's Gold rating.

In order to be certified by EPEAT a product must be easy to disassemble with common tools to have toxic components like batteries separated from recyclable materials. Interestingly Apple was among the manufacturers, advocacy groups and government agencies that helped create the standards.

?[Apple] said their design direction was no longer consistent with the EPEAT requirements,? Frisbee said. ?They were important supporters and we are disappointed that they don?t want their products measured by this standard anymore.?

An Apple spokesperson declined to comment and instead referred inquiries to the company's website which contains information regarding the environmental impact of its products. The company has removed any mention of the EPEAT standard on its product Tech Specs pages but retains ENERGY STAR requirements as well as a string of dedicated environmental awareness pages.

MacBook Pro Environmental Impact
The MacBook Pro with Retina display environmental information no longer mentions the EPEAT standard
and was not submitted for certification. | Source: Apple


In its teardown of the new MacBook Pro with Retina display, iFixit said the laptop is an engineering marvel but is "to date, the least repairable laptop we've taken apart. Apple has packed all of the things we hate into one beautiful little package." The aluminum unibody chassis was not only secured by proprietary pentalobe screws but had soldered-on RAM and a fused display assembly. Perhaps most telling is the construction of the battery pack which is glued to the frame rather than secured by screws. Apple did not submit the laptop for EPEAT review.

?If the battery is glued to the case it means you can?t recycle the case and you can?t recycle the battery,? Frisbee said of the new MacBook Pro with Retina display.

According to Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu, Apple had to make the concessions in recyclability to satisfy the growing demand for thinner, more efficient laptops. Some detractors to the newer design choices that limit product repairability claim that the company is purposely making it difficult for users to install third-party upgrades like RAM and hard drives.

?They are not trying to purposely make it hard to open, they are just trying to pack as much as they can into a small space?it?s a design decision,? Wu said.

Environmental Awareness
Environmental information flow chart from Apple's dedicated environment awareness page. | Source: Apple


It remains to be seen whether the quiet removal from EPEAT's list will have any affect on sales, though director of outreach for the standards group Sarah O'Brien said that many large corporations require computer purchases to be EPEAT-certified. A survey from 2010 found that out of 300 American universities with large endowments, 222 requested purchasing preference be given to EPEAT-certified computers while 70 required the standard for all electronics buys. The statistics may not be significantly detrimental to Apple's financials, however, as much of the company's educational, government and business sales are moving toward iPads and iPhones which are not yet rated by EPEAT.

Apple has been a strong proponent of environmental efficacy for many years and even went as far as to laud the EPEAT standard in a fuel cell patent in 2011, saying that the certification helped to bring the environmental friendliness of electronic products to the fore. To that end Apple has operated a hardware recycling program in the U.S. and Canada since 2001 and expanded the service earlier this year to cover markets in France and Germany.

Wu believes that the company will continue the push to be green by instituting its own standard but no official announcement regarding such an initiative has been made.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 197
    cvaldes1831cvaldes1831 Posts: 1,832member


    My guess is that Apple considers the EPEAT criteria to be woefully out of date and thus, no longer worth supporting in 2012. There are possibly other behind-the-scenes political motivations behind the status change.


     


    It is unlikely that Apple would ever come out directly against EPEAT, which is explains their thinly veiled language.


     


    Apple has disassociated itself from other groups that it no longer felt worth supporting. Apple Inc. pulled out of the US Chamber of Commerce in 2009 over discord with the group's emissions policy. Amusingly, Apple remains a major sponsor of the Cupertino Chamber of Commerce.

  • Reply 2 of 197
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Interesting. The cynic in me is wondering if Apple is pushing toward the more integrated design across all their Macs over the next year or so which would mean they will systematically starting rating lower (or not at all) on EPEAT which would make this move a pre-empetive strategy.


    Note that on at least one of their pages they are already missing images related to EPEAT. That makes me wonder if it's a very abrupt change,


    359


    PS: If DaHarder agrees with my comment I'll know I'm on the wrong track. ????
  • Reply 3 of 197
    ankleskaterankleskater Posts: 1,287member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post



    Interesting. The cynic in me is wondering if Apple is pushing toward the more integrated design across all their Macs over the next year or so which would mean they will systematically starting rating lower (or not at all) on EPEAT which would make this move a pre-empetive strategy.

    Not that on at least one of their pages they are already missing images related to EPEAT. That makes me wonder if it's a very abrupt change,

    359

    PS: If DaHarder agrees with my comment I'll know I'm on the wrong track. ????


     


    If that's the case, would there be need to remove existing and legacy products from the list?

  • Reply 4 of 197
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,436member


    Good. I've always felt that Apple spends too much time talking up the whole green angle during their keynotes, and it has zero effect on my eventual purchase of any Apple product. That's probably the least important feature of any Apple device, in my opinion. And it doesn't really matter anyway, because Apple will still get the imbeciles from Greenpeace attacking them, no matter what they do.


     


    I also usually view products labelled with "green" as a negative thing, and I try to stay away from "green" products, such as certain hard drives. In the case of the hard drives, "green" is practically synonymous with inferior, slower and worse.

  • Reply 5 of 197
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    If that's the case, would there be need to remove existing and legacy products from the list?

    Yes, I would. If you know your future products will not possibly be EPEAT certified then having your previous products on the list just makes it look bad. It's not much better to have your old ones removed but at least people who are not in the tech field will have to do some hunting to find out your previous products were EPEAT and now you're nothing even submitting them for approval.
  • Reply 6 of 197
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    APPLE IS GIVING UP BEING GREEN. GREENPEACE WILL BOYCOTT APPLE AND GIVE IT A "0" RATING. APPLE WILL BE INCLUDING EMPTY PLASTIC SIX-RING SODA PACKAGING WITH ALL THEIR PRODUCTS FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF CHOKING SEAGULLS.

    All this sensationalism about Apple is making me want to start my own personal compost heap, if you know what I mean. :lol:
  • Reply 7 of 197
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    APPLE IS GIVING UP BEING GREEN. GREENPEACE WILL BOYCOTT APPLE AND GIVE IT A "0" RATING. APPLE WILL BE INCLUDING EMPTY PLASTIC SIX-RING SODA PACKAGING WITH ALL THEIR PRODUCTS FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF CHOKING SEAGULLS.
    All this sensationalism about Apple is making me want to start my own personal compost heap, if you know what I mean. :lol:

    The one thing you can count on from environment groups is that they constantly recycle their dumb shit.
  • Reply 8 of 197
    ankleskaterankleskater Posts: 1,287member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post





    The one thing you can count on from environment groups is that they constantly recycle their dumb shit.




    Maybe. But let's face it - even though they can be extreme, the world is a bit better with their scrutiny.  We need extremists on both sides to find a happy middle.

  • Reply 9 of 197

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

    “If the battery is glued to the case it means you can’t recycle the case and you can’t recycle the battery,” Frisbee said of the new MacBook Pro with Retina display.



    According to Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu, Apple had to make the concessions in recyclability to satisfy the growing demand for thinner, more efficient laptops. 


     


     


    The New York Times is going to have a field day with this.

  • Reply 10 of 197
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,436member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ankleskater View Post




    But let's face it - even though they can be extreme, the world is a bit better with their scrutiny. 



     


    They should mind their own business. They have no business dictating their extremist religious beliefs unto others. If somebody wants to be all green and go live in a tree for the rest of their lives and never use toilet paper ever again, then good for them, as long as they keep their distance from me. But these loons have no right to impose their beliefs unto others. 

  • Reply 11 of 197
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member

    Maybe. But let's face it - even though they can be extreme, the world is a bit better with their scrutiny.  We need extremists on both sides to find a happy middle.

    I'm happy with the happy middle being able to find the happy middle. Perhaps I'm biased but I can't say I've ever had sex with my girlfriend's pants pockets so I do think it's possible to always find the happy middle right away.



    (too risqué and I'll edit my post)
  • Reply 12 of 197
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    I think a heat gun on the back side of the metal could release the glue. Sometimes adhesives loosen smoothly on freezing. I would try the freezing first. I don't think it's the end of recycling for Apple products.
  • Reply 13 of 197
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,205member

    The New York Times is going to have a field day with this.

    Yep. It is important to note that the EPEAT standard is 'common tools'. That doesn't meanit can't be taken apart but just that the common user isn't likely to have the tools. I'm betting that Apple will start some recycling program where a tech at the store uses their less common tools to open the case, remove the toxic battery with some special removal tool etc. or maybe they will go to this repair depot they are always sending laptops to and it will be one there.
  • Reply 14 of 197
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    jeffdm wrote: »
    I think a heat gun on the back side of the metal could release the glue. Sometimes adhesives loosen smoothly on freezing. I would try the freezing first. I don't think it's the end of recycling for Apple products.

    It's odd that glue is now being cast as some impenetrable barrier. You'd think it was adhered with the SLD-26 planetary shield generator .
  • Reply 15 of 197
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,436member


    The people who are most upset and the ones doing the most whining about the repairability of Apple's new products, like the new Retina Macbook Pro, are the repair sites, so they're basically being egotistical and only viewing the issue from their point of view. Making super thin products will come with some compromises in other areas, such as ease of user repairability. If somebody wishes to be sure that they'll be able to repair their own device and they want to tinker with their laptop, then I'm sure that there are plenty of thick and bulky PC's available that they still can buy.

  • Reply 16 of 197
    cvaldes1831cvaldes1831 Posts: 1,832member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post





    It's odd that glue is now being cast as some impenetrable barrier. 


     


    Amusingly, if you search for "remove glue" on Google, it returns 19.6 million results.


     


    Maybe it's not such a big deal after all.

  • Reply 17 of 197
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Amusingly, if you search for "remove glue" on Google, it returns 19.6 million results.

    Maybe it's not such a big deal after all.

    Google also shows 15.7 million results for "remove nuclear weapons" so that might not be the best evidence. ????
  • Reply 18 of 197
    psedogpsedog Posts: 14member
    Bravo, great reply. I've always hated using google search as a reference in ones point. It is irrelevant.
  • Reply 19 of 197


    The issue is that Apple wants them to buy iPads and the iPad is not on the list. Because government moves so slow, Apple has removed their fall-back method which may light a fire under them to get the iPad approved.


     


    That is my theory.

  • Reply 20 of 197
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,436member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by psedog View Post



    I've always hated using google search as a reference in ones point. It is irrelevant.


     


    I give both of them credit for at least using quotations. Very often, I've come across people trying to use the amount of hits that a certain phrase or combination of words gets on a Google search, to try and make some sort of point, and these people don't even use quotations, making whatever point they were trying to make totally useless.

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