EPEAT: The MacBook Pro with Retina display got a gold because it passed the test

EPEAT: The MacBook Pro with Retina display got a gold because it passed the test

Summary: Apple's MacBook Pro with Retina display may be the "the least repairable, least recyclable computer" iFixit has ever seen, but not only is it good enough to pass EPEAT testing, it's good enough to get the gold award.

TOPICS: Apple, Hardware

The EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool), a method for consumers to evaluate the effect of a product on the environment, hits back at criticisms that it "caved in to Apple" by awarding the MacBook Pro with Retina display a gold rating.

Kyle Wiens, cofounder and CEO of repair firm iFixit, said that EPEAT's decision to give Apple's MacBook Pro with Retina display a gold rating despite it being, in Wiens' words, "the least repairable, least recyclable computer I have encountered in more than a decade of disassembling electronics" was a move that will "lead humanity down a perilous path".

The gold rating is EPEAT's the highest possible environmental performance rating.

The EPEAT has hit back against the claims, pointing out that there was no caving in to Apple, and that the MacBook Pro with Retina display was given the gold rating because it passed the necessary criteria.

In an email, EPEAT's director of outreach and communications Sarah O’Brien pointed out that the disassembly criteria used in the testing or products  were for recycling or shredding, not for upgrade capability, so the inclusion of proprietary pentalobe screws -- screws which need a special tool to undo them -- makes no difference to the rating awarded a product.

Also, O’Brien makes it clear that the testing criteria used doesn’t prescribe or forbid specific construction methods such as fasteners versus adhesives. 

"The test lab went through the process and reported that the products were all easy to disassemble with commonly available tools," claims O’Brien.

Wiens also attacked EPEAT's decision to call any system featuring a USB port as "upgradable" because it can utilizes USB flash storage media. While this might not be what some of us might call an upgrade, it is in keeping with the criteria laid out by EPEAT, which is as follows:

–       Hard disk, digital versatile disc (DVD), floppy drive can be changed or extended [e.g., by a high performance serial bus (IEEE Std 1394™ [B4]) or Universal Serial Bus (USB)]

–       Memory and cards can be changed or extended [e.g., by a high performance serial bus (IEEE Std 1394 [B4]) or USB].

"That may or may not be an adequate measure of upgrade capability," wrote O’Brien, "but we have to verify to the specific requirements of the standard".

"When manufacturers’ products fail to pass verification by EPEAT they are ‘named and shamed’ in a public report. This is intended to ensure careful manufacturer support for all product declarations and to uphold the credibility of the registry. We have no incentive, nor any ability, to bend the rules for any of the 50+ manufacturers who participate in the EPEAT registry when we undertake verifications".

Image source: iFixit.

Topics: Apple, Hardware

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  • Guess iFixIt forgot to read the spec.

    Oh snap.

    But they got lots of press for bad mouthing an Apple design.
    • This was obvious

      iFixit were doing cheap PR stunt.
      • missing the point

        If you can upgrade and avoid recycling all together, that is greener than and any easily disassembled piece of equipment:
        The RAM was soldered in, the SSD storage used a proprietary interface, the battery was glued down with impressively strong glue, and the case was held together using proprietary screws

        This means repairs and upgrades become cost prohibited and leads to more junked computers.
        Bryan Herdliska
  • So it is recycleable?

    And "leading humanity down a perilous path" was just hyperbole for "it took a little longer to disassemble than some other products"?
  • If you change the requirements to meet the product being tested

    then eveything will pass 100%!

    Do you really think they want super billion dollar Apple as an enemy?
    William Farrel
    • They'd only screw themselves in the long run

      For the record, I don't think that EPEAT took money from Apple, or that Apple gave money to EPEAT, to influence the review. When you review certain products, whether for quality in everyday use or for earth-friendliness, your only asset is your reputation for fair and accurate reviews, and once you show a willingness to put your thumb on the scale for profit, you are useless for that purpose.

      First of all, arguing that they would be open to a bribe from Apple for a good review 1) implies that they would do it for others and 2) implies that they might have done it for others in the past. Pretty much all they have to recommend them is their reputation for reliably evaluating the effects of a product on the environment, and if they are seen as willing to take money to goose the results, there is no reason to ever trust anything else they do. (or have done, for that matter).

      This is, of course, before you even consider the alternate implication of this--that EPEAT may have effectively blackmailed Apple, saying that unless they get a generous donation, they won't give the product a fair review. Outlandish, to be sure, but EPEAT doesn't look good either way if money did indeed change hands.

      To put it simply, if EPEAT made a deal with Apple to give them a good review, this throws every other review they've ever done into question. EPEAT would never be able to break even on such a deal, since their reputation would be destroyed.
      Third of Five
  • The$e are my qualification$$$$

    EPEAT: Your MBP w/RD does not qualify.
    Apple: What!!! Are you sure?? There are million$$ of rea$on$ that point out it doe$ qualify!!
    EPEAT: Errmmmm.......maybe......
    Apple: Yes, it does!!! Have $ome more million$$ of rea$on$
    EPEAT: Ok, your are qualified!!!!
  • I Epeat, Vee Ver Just Following Orders

    Nothing but B$ with Epeat...um well we see how environmental these companies are even with Apples recycle program....its just dump it all in China's poor towns when the computer ceases to be useful. How can any company be environmental when they release a new version several times a year. Really last year at this time Macbook pro 2.0 to 2.1 ghz speed upgrade so whats the point. Apple doesnt reinvent the wheel everytime they release a new model...they just keep us on the treadmill of consumerism.
    Jonathan Levitt