The Apple is No Longer Greener on the Other Side - The UpStream

The Apple is No Longer Greener on the Other Side

posted Saturday Jul 7, 2012 by Scott Ertz

The Apple is No Longer Greener on the Other Side

Apple has long billed itself as an environmentally friendly company. In fact, essentially the entire line of Apple products has been EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) certified. Not that this was a big accomplishment, as millions of electronics products are on this registry. It makes sense, since many schools, corporations and government agencies will only purchase products that are on the registry, either by matter of law, conscience or charter. One of the reasons is because EPEAT encourages products to be recyclable, such as being easily openable with standard tools and with the ability to disassemble the components easily.

Well, Apple's products are certainly not that. If you have ever had the guts to try and change the battery in an iPhone, you know that there is no real way to do it without ruining the housing. This coming from someone who has replaced communications boards between phones without concern, so you know it is a pretty serious effort, unless you have Apple's special tools. Unfortunately, Apple's special tools are not "standard tools" and therefore, the products do not meet the EPEAT requirements for registry. Because of this, Apple has notified EPEAT to remove all of their products, almost 40 in total, from the registry.

How will this affect Apple and what do the two organization have to say about the move? Hit the break for more.

Not only have they removed the products for now, they will no longer be submitting in the future. That is a pretty bold move, especially considering they have completely cut off huge sections of revenue from organizations that will only buy EPEAT-certified products. This especially hits home with schools, who have started considering iPads for their electronic textbooks offerings. This will take the iPad out of consideration and give Microsoft Surface or Kindle Fire a shot. The Surface seems perfectly reasonable considering it would run the software the schools already have site licenses for, such as Office.

EPEAT is also disappointed in Apple's decision. An official statement from the organization said,

Apple has notified EPEAT that it is withdrawing its products from the EPEAT registry and will no longer be submitting its products to EPEAT for environmental rating.

EPEAT is more than simply a product rating - it is also a community effort by all interested stakeholders to define and maintain best practice in environmental sustainability for electronics. We regret that Apple will no longer be registering its products in EPEAT. We hope that they will decide to do so again at some point in future.

The organization's CEO, Robert Frisbee, said in an interview,

If the battery is glued to the case, it means you can't recycle the case and you can't recycle the battery... They said their design direction was no longer consistent with the EPEAT requirements... They were important supporters and we are disappointed that they don't want their products measured by this standard anymore.

EPEAT believes Apple's products are not easily recyclable, and if the authority on the matter says so, I would tend to agree. However, what does the company itself think about its own products?

Apple's approach to recycling begins in the design stage, where we create compact, efficient products that require less material to produce... Apple has instituted recycling programs in cities and college campuses in 95 percent of the countries where our products are sold, diverting more than 115,504 metric tons of equipment from landfills since 1994. Our goal in 2010 was to achieve a worldwide recycling rate of 70 percent.

That seems reasonable: we want to allow recycling, but it is too hard to design for that. Makes sense to me.

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