Apple abandons EPEAT green technology certification

Apple abandons EPEAT green technology certification

Summary: The move makes it tougher for government agencies and businesses using EPEAT as a procurement tool to buy Apple products. But does it really matter in the face of the BYOD movement?

TOPICS: Hardware

Apple has abruptly pulled all its products out of the EPEAT green technology database. On the face of it, the move will make it more difficult for some government and corporate accounts that use the certification as a procurement tool to continue buying the company's laptops, monitors, desktops and integrated systems.

But the move raises a larger question: as more companies allow employees to use their own notebooks and tablet computers for work purposes, how important will green IT procurement criteria be in the future? 

Apple isn't commenting on why it is ditching a specification it helped to create, but The Wall Street Journal CIO Journal reports the EPEAT CEO Robert Frisbee believe it is because of "design direction." 

EPEAT, aka the Electronics Product Environmental Assessment Tool, includes set of lifecycle management criteria, including how easy it is to break down a given product at the end of its life so that it can be recycled, refurbished or reused. The scuttlebut is that the new MacBook Pro, which includes batteries glued into the case, violates EPEAT's criteria but there's no official confirmation of that.

EPEAT posted a terse statement on its Web site, saying it was disappointed that Apple is leaving "a community effort by all interested stakeholders to define and maintain best practice in environmental sustainability for electronics." 

The city of San Francisco uses EPEAT criteria for purchasing, and it will no longer be able to buy Apple products as a result of the development, reports the Silicon Valley MercuryNews.

"We strongly believe that eco-labels are essential for green purchasing, and Apple just withdrew from the list," Chris Geiger, San Francisco's toxics reduction coordinator, told the MercuryNews. "We want to register our displeasure, and urge Apple to reconsider."

I've got to believe that Microsoft executives are super-psyched about this development, which is bound to have an impact on Apple's nascent encrouchment in enterprise accounts.

The thing is, will this really hurt Apple in the long run? 

As more businesses embrace a BYOD device philosophy, it will be harder to tell employees what they can and cannot buy or can and cannont bring. The most powerful device in BYOD today, the Apple iPad, isn't even covered in the EPEAT database. Today, the only products that can be registered are notebooks, desktops, integrated all-in-one systems, monitors, thin clients and workstations.

Apple's decision suggests once again that decision is paramount to environmental considerations, at least in that company's eyes. For people who care about that sort of thing, it's a disappointment, but it probably won't have that big of an impact on its corporate incursion.

Topic: Hardware

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  • WWAGD?

    Al Gore, that is. Is he not still on Apple's board and is he not still championing ecological causes?
    • Al Gore...

      Well, Al Gore also has huge holdings in Occidental Petroleum, and has bent over backwards, including wheeling and dealing to allow drilling on a Native American burial ground in Elk Hills, to support his interests. He made a nice movie about the environment and wrote a book. He made money from it. He's an opportunist, like all politicians. He made people aware of environmental issues, but he does not practice what he preaches. Look up "Al Gore Elk Hills". I mean, even in "An Inconvenient Truth" he was flying first class and being driven around in stretch limos. He's and important man, but Ed Baigley Jr. wouldn't be seen riding in a stretch limo. I don't expect Al Gore to fly economy and drive a Prius (although many wealthy people do, especially in Hollywood), but he could have made a point of using telecommunications technology instead of flying half way around the world to shake a Chinese leader's hand. Most corporations have cut back on travel and use telecommunications technology. This has less to do with the environment than saving money, but they do reduce carbon emissions.
  • Be afraid

    If Microsoft's executives are doing anything about this, it is appointing people to figure out what Apple can do in terms of constructing products by abandoning this certification that they couldn't do if they followed EPEAT. It must be true that Apple has identified competitive advantages that cannot be obtained by following this standard. Anybody who gets "super psyched" thinking they are going to clean Apple's clock with a glorified Energy Star sticker is likely to get blind-sided by some new thing from Apple that is thinner, lighter, cheaper, or some other quality that they can't meet because they've been following EPEAT.
    Robert Hahn
    • Yes...

      You are right on here. According to my research, consumers don't care about the environment. Also, Apple has never really had much business with the government. EPEAT is only a standard that governments follow. The SF city government only had 1-2% Macs in their IT infrastructure. That's the SF Bay Area, home of Apple. Businesses, governments, etc. still use Windows. Apple will face little impact. It is also important to note that Apple holds up very well on the Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics... Some of the vendors that are recommended by EPEAT do very poorly on the Greenpeace list.
  • EPEAT -provide critical design information to concurency of Apple

    Since EPEAT never meet criterias for protecting applicants design information and the oposite - made it public - this obviously made Apple dedication to green standard - serious security problem. If you wonder how Samsung or other Apple competitors got the information for their latet design - now You know. Logical step to protect it self - this is how Iunderstandwhat Apple did and their products will remain Green since Apple buld them by this way.
  • Consumers don't care about the environment

    I wrote a piece on this for my site, Appledystopia. In my research, I found that consumers don't really care about the environment. That said, Apple is still very green. The Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics ranks Apple as #4, noting that their products are very environmentally friendly, but their processes and operations need improvement. Some of the leaders on the list do not have environmentally friendly products. Apple never really sold to governments. The SF city ban is largely symbolic -- at most 2% of their computers are Macs. That said, Apple made a bad move. All they did was garner bad publicity.