Eduitor’s Note: So, as Chelsea noted the other day, Apple decided this week that it no longer meshed with the eco-label EPEAT. As a response, San Francisco told Apple it was out (city officials wouldn’t be buying its products). And, now, due to that or the media pressure or consumer dissatisfaction with this change (or all of the above), Apple is changing its mind and sticking with EPEAT. Here’s more from Scott Cooney of sister site The Inspired Economist:
Apple today announced that it might have been just kidding when it previously announced plans to withdraw its Macbook from evaluation by the green IT label EPEAT. Apple’s popularity among designers, artists, and young entrepreneurs might give you the impression that its products are, as the company says, “the world’s greenest lineup of notebooks.” The truth is a bit more complicated than that, of course, with Apple fairly consistently ranking among the middle of the pack in IT greenness.
Apple’s been getting skewered by the public and the media for pulling its Macbook out of the EPEAT certification process. EPEAT is the premier certification for IT products, and an EPEAT certification on your computer means that the product has achieved energy efficiency, product recyclability, low-toxicity, and other standards measuring its environmentally friendly nature. It also comes with a fairly substantial carrot. The Federal Government, starting in 2009 with an Executive Order by President Obama, committed to buying 95% of its computing equipment as EPEAT certified, as a way to save taxpayers money by avoiding energy hogs.
It’s not the energy efficiency, per se, that Apple had rejected by pulling out of EPEAT, but the standards for repair and recyclability that EPEAT also governs. The company was hoping to release new products that are sleeker and sexier, but unfortunately, that also means that you’d need some specialized tools and expertise to get the products apart in order to repair something broken, and of course recycling becomes far more difficult, meaning that toxins in the electronics would be far more likely to end up as soil, groundwater, or air pollution.
In a letter posted on the company’s website, Senior Vice President Bob Mansfield said today:
“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.”
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Image Credit: Apple girl via Shutterstock
Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. As a serial eco-entrepreneur who has started, grown and sold multiple green businesses, Scott believes that capitalism, true capitalism, can be a powerful force for change, but that our current version of capitalism is severely hampered by perverse subsidies and negative externalities that make unsustainable products less expensive than healthier alternatives. Scott is a vegetarian, an avid cyclist, and an organic gardener. Find Scott on Google Plus