Consumer Technology EPEAT Greenpeace Apple Shenanigans

Published on October 15th, 2012 | by Charis Michelsen


EPEAT Under Fire from Greenpeace for Apple MacBook Pro Approval

October 15th, 2012 by  

American product evaluation method EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) came under fire from the international environmental organization Greenpeace this week over some shenanigans involving Apple. Yes, of course, that Apple — the one that withdrew its products from the EPEAT registry over the summer… for about 1 day.

EPEAT Greenpeace Apple Shenanigans

EPEAT Evaluates, Greenpeace Watches

The shenanigans involve some ultra-thin notebooks which, to be fair, are not all from Apple — Lenovo, Samsung, and Toshiba also offered up products for evaluation. The specific product that caught Greenpeace’s attention was the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display — the very one that Apple apparently concluded would not qualify for EPEAT registry back in July.

The EPEAT evaluation process involves determining how easy it is to upgrade and/or recycle an electronic product; in the case of this particular round of evaluations, each ultra-thin notebook was disassembled by non-EPEAT-affiliated personnel (to approximate the normal user’s level of proficiency with yanking apart sensitive machinery) with instructions provided by each manuafacturer.

Robert Frisbee, EPEAT’s chief executive, claims that the products held up quite well:

“The [technical test] lab disassembled each of the purchased products with full documentation of each disassembly process, including its overall duration. Time for total disassembly of each of the products was under 20 minutes in all cases; for the removal of batteries the time required was between 30 seconds and two minutes.”

EPEAT Approves, Greenpeace Doesn’t

So far, the process sounds copacetic, but Greenpeace isn’t buying it. Analyst Casey Harrell claims that Apple wanted to change the standards when it came out with the Retina Display–sporting MacBook.

Harrell also pointed out that just because EPEAT’s standards were met in a laboratory doesn’t mean that the products in question will actually be upgraded or properly recycled; in other words, EPEAT hasn’t taken into account human laziness or the matter of not wanting to void a warranty:

“Consumers will not risk violating their product warranty to change a battery using instructions they don’t have with tools they don’t own, and are sure to conclude that the entire process is too complicated and instead buy a new product. The result will be electronics with a shorter lifespan and more e-waste.

“Electronics need to be designed so that people can upgrade and repair them as easily as possible. If companies can’t make products that can be easily fixed, they shouldn’t be sold.”

Greenpeace may not be entirely wrong, given the popular practice of planned obsolescence; on the other hand, there’s no comparison with which to say that the standards have actually been changed.

Questions? Insights? Battery-changing instructions? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Business Green
Image Source: Apple 
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About the Author

spent 7 years living in Germany and Japan, studying both languages extensively, doing translation and education with companies like Bosch, Nissan, Fuji Heavy, and others. Charis has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and currently lives in Chicago, Illinois. She also believes that Janeway was the best Star Trek Captain.

  • mk1313

    EPEAT, yet one more good idea bought off by a mega corporation and now worthless.

  • I agree with Greenpeace, that products should be designed to be repairable, or at the very least designed to ensure that elementary maintenance will not require special tools or risk voiding warranties. In my experience , the average consumer gets very nervous when having to flip over a piece of equipment to change the batteries.

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