July 9, 2012

Apple Cuts Ties With EPEAT

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Not only is Apple´s newest MacBook Pro with Retina Display the “least repairable laptop” on the market today, (or possibly ever) it could also be the reason why Apple is no longer seeking the approval from the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) program. This certification – in either a gold, silver or bronze rating – is given to products which are found to be environmentally friendly, recyclable and overall, green.

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,” according to the EAPEAT website.

In a report in the CIO Journal, EPEAT CEO Robert Frisbee said Apple asked the standards-setting group to pull each of their 39 products with the certification late last month.

To win the approval of EPEAT, recyclers need to be able to easily disassemble the products, without the worry of being harmed by toxic chemicals. Though the standards were created in part with the help of Apple, advocacy groups and government agencies, Apple has asked that their products no longer be listed as EPEAT certified.

“They 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.”

As noted by the disassemblers at iFixit.com, Apple´s MacBook Pro with Retina Display is a bear to take apart. Not only is its brilliant, ultra high-definition display built directly into the laptop´s frame, its battery is also glued down, unable to be removed. That the battery can´t be removed is a major violation of EPEAT´s standards.

“If the battery is glued to the case it means you can´t recycle the case and you can´t recycle the battery,” Frisbee told the Wall Street Journal.

It appears Apple will continue to opt for these kinds of design choices in the future. There have also been rumors that Apple´s newest iPhone will be built in a similar way, with the components built directly into the case. Though Apple notoriously prefers their users not dive into their products, Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu says their decision to glue everything down in a unified case isn´t done to keep  their customers out.

“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.

Will this hurt Apple? According to the Wall Street Journal, many corporations require their CIOs to purchase EPEAT certified computers. The government also requires that 95% of electronics purchased bear the certification. In addition, a large majority of universities with large endowments prefer their IT departments buy computers with the EPEAT certification.

Currently, Apple is still doing well in these universities in terms of their iPad and iPhone sales, which are not EPEAT certified.

Apple hasn´t suddenly changed their feelings towards the environment, however. Wu predicts the Cupertino company will simply create their own certification to appease those corporations, government agencies and universities who require the certification.

“At the end of the day in a business it´s really about what works,” Wu said.

With this separation from the EPEAT, Apple could have coyly acknowledged that we´ll be seeing many more laptops like the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with Retina Display in the future.