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Apple Products Will Be Rated by EPEAT Once Again

Apple announced on Monday that none of the company’s future products would be submitted to the EPEAT. This essentially meant that Apple would be abandoning their environmentalist policies. After they received a fair amount of grief regarding the issue, Apple’s Vice President of Hardware Engineering Bob Mansfield released an official statement today that Apple products would continue to be included the EPEAT.

Here’s a brief rundown of what has been going on with Apple and the EPEAT over the course of this week: On Monday, Apple announced that its devices would no longer be included on the EPEAT or Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, a ranking system designed to assess the impact electronic products have on the environment. Apple was hit with a great deal of negative feedback from consumers, including the Municipal Government of San Francisco, which refused to continue buying Apple products. Apple then tried to alleviate its customers’ concerns by claiming to be environmentally friendly in ways not measured by the EPEAT. Consumers, however, were unconvinced.

Today, Apple gave in and reversed their decision. Apple’s Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering, Bob Mansfield, released a letter on the company’s official website saying:

“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. I recognize that this was a mistake. Starting today, all eligible Apple products are back on EPEAT.”

Mansfield spends most of the letter on the defensive, going to great lengths to describe why Apple leads the industry in environmental friendliness. He lists a number of aspects which are not included in the IEEE 1680.1 (The standard on which the EPEAT rating of personal computers is based) and goes on to say:

“We think the IEEE 1680.1 standard could be a much stronger force for protecting the environment if it were upgraded to include advancements like these. This standard, on which the EPEAT rating system is based, is an important measuring stick for our industry and its products.”

The CEO of EPEAT, Robert Frisbee, released an open letter in conjunction with Apple’s announcement on EPEAT’s website. Frisbee states:

“Our relationship with Apple is based on our natural alignment – as Apple drives innovation in product design, EPEAT drives innovation in standards design. EPEAT has pioneered voluntary standards, after-market verification, optional criteria and tiered product certification as ways to keep pace with a fast-paced industry.”

It seems like this reconciliation is almost too jovial. All this makes me feel a bit uneasy. EPEAT is welcoming Apple back with open arms after Apple most likely left because they knew that their new products weren’t as environmentally friendly as they had been in the past. Monday’s statement came shortly after the release of Apple’s newest MacBook Pros, laptops nearly impossible to repair. Ease of repair to prevent tech-trash is one of the aspects of a product’s design EPEAT takes into consideration when they rate any product. The new MacBook Pro also features more glue, which can also be environmentally harmful.

Apple was standing at the fulcrum of a teeter-totter this week. They knew that if their products received a low score from EPEAT, sales would go down; on the other hand, they knew that if they removed their products from the EPEAT, many consumers would not trust the products enough to buy them. I will be fascinated to hear EPEAT’s ratings of Apple’s newest products. Apple bit the bullet today and made a decision. Whether that bullet will prove to be rubber or ballistic, we have yet to see.

(via The Next Web)

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