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7/13/2012
03:44 PM
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Apple: Exiting EPEAT Environmental Program Was Mistake

Company responds to customer and media criticism by saying it will return to submitting most of its products for EPEAT certification.

New iPad Teardown: Inside Apple's Tablet
New iPad Teardown: Inside Apple's Tablet
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Following criticism from environmental groups and customers, Apple Friday said it will resume submitting its products to the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) certification program, with the exception of its new MacBook Pro Retina model.

Apple hardware SVP Bob Mansfield, whose impending retirement was announced in June, published a letter on Apple's website indicating that the company was responding to customers who objected to the company's decision to abandon EPEAT.

"We've recently heard from many loyal Apple customers who were disappointed to learn that we had removed our products from the EPEAT rating system," Mansfield said. "I recognize that this was a mistake. Starting today, all eligible Apple products are back on EPEAT."

The key word here is "eligible." Apple last month told Robert Frisbee, CEO of EPEAT, that it would not longer be submitting 39 of its products for review, according to CIO Journal. The new MacBook Pro Retina was never eligible for EPEAT certification because it does not meet the disassembly requirement. Apple chose to sacrifice repairability and recyclability in its MacBook Pro Retina to accommodate design requirements that included gluing screen glass and the battery in place.

[Read Apple Clean Cloud More Talk Than Walk: Greenpeace.]

In a phone interview on Thursday, Gary Cook, senior policy analyst for Greenpeace International, said Apple was making a false choice between design and recyclability. He characterized Apple's exit from EPEAT as "a step backwards from what had previously been quite good environmental leadership," and noted that technology products should "last longer and be repairable."

In his letter, Mansfield insists that Apple continues to lead the industry in its environmental practices. "[W]e make the most energy-efficient computers in the world and our entire product line exceeds the stringent ENERGY STAR 5.2 government standard," he wrote. "No one else in our industry can make that claim."

Greenpeace on Thursday described Apple's environmental leadership as heavy on words but light on action, noting that the company has not shown that it has followed through on a pledge to run its data centers using only renewable energy.

Whether or not Apple's green cred is restored by its contrition, the company will benefit by continuing to be eligible for government and academic IT contracts, many of which require EPEAT certification.

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moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
7/17/2012 | 8:39:52 PM
re: Apple: Exiting EPEAT Environmental Program Was Mistake
Easy to say for Apple after they release a bunch of product that can neither be repaired nor upgraded. There is nothing green about a tablet or phone that needs to be thrown away when the battery wimps out or the display goes sour or the next version is released not even a year later. Now that I think about it, there is not a single thing that Apple makes that I'd consider 'green'.
Appledystopia
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Appledystopia,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/21/2012 | 7:52:50 PM
re: Apple: Exiting EPEAT Environmental Program Was Mistake
This is probably the best piece I have read on this issue. A few points -- the Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics gives Apple a high ranking. They are number 4 on the list, however their products are better than the leaders on the list. They fall short in terms of process, policy, and operations, but not products. Also, Mansfield's open letter mentions that Apple exceeds many of the IEEE 1680.1 standards (the basis for EPEAT's standards) and calls for expanding these standards. I think this piece ends up ignoring a very important point. If you want to read more about this issue, I wrote a two pieces on my site, Appledystopia. EPEAT has their own set of criteria, but they are not comprehensive.
Appledystopia
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Appledystopia,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/21/2012 | 7:55:58 PM
re: Apple: Exiting EPEAT Environmental Program Was Mistake
The iPhone does have a replaceable battery. It can be replaced by the user for about $30. $7 for the special screwdriver and $25 or so for the battery. That said, my iPhone 4 is 18 months old, used constantly, and still holds a charge like it was brand new. I really doubt I will be replacing the battery in its useful lifetime. I charge it about once in 5 days. The battery in the iPhone 4 is actually one of its main advantages. Competing devices are well known to have poor battery life, often needing to be charged a few times a day...

I have a 7 year old iPod "classic" (80GB). I use it all the time. It still plays music for 10 hours on a charge. Apple is actually pretty good at hardware design, particularly using high quality batteries that never need replacement. This Macbook Pro with the Retina display is supposed to do 1000 charge cycles. I don't doubt it. Even if you charge it once a day, that's 3 years. Most people will charge it 2-3 times a week. The average user will replace that notebook before its battery gives out.

I actually have a site that is quite critical of Apple. That said, to be fair, they are very good with hardware and design -- beyond just looking "pretty".
Appledystopia
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Appledystopia,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/21/2012 | 8:03:16 PM
re: Apple: Exiting EPEAT Environmental Program Was Mistake
One important tip for all lithium ion batteries is to fully drain the battery before charging it, at least once a month. I try to do this every charge cycle, but that isn't always an option. I know people who plug their device in the charger all the time -- even if it has 95% charge left. Their batteries die in 6 months. Apple recommends draining the battery once a month... I follow this recommendation, which may be why I never replace batteries...
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