iFixit chief executive: EPEAT 'caved in to Apple'

iFixit chief executive: EPEAT 'caved in to Apple'

Summary: The decision by the leading green consumer electronics standard EPEAT to award Apple's Retina MacBook Pro a gold rating is a sign it has "caved in to Apple" and will "lead humanity down a perilous path" claims iFixit.

TOPICS: Apple, Hardware

EPEAT, the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, a method for consumers to evaluate the effect of a product on the environment, has "caved in to Apple," a move that will "lead humanity down a perilous path" claims a repair expert.

The accusations made by Kyle Wiens, cofounder and CEO of repair firm iFixit, relate to EPEAT's decision to give Apple's MacBook Pro with Retina display a gold rating, the highest possible environmental performance rating, despite it being, in Wiens' words, "the least repairable, least recyclable computer I have encountered in more than a decade of disassembling electronics".

Image source: iFixit.

Not only is the MacBook Pro with Retina display held together with proprietary pentalobe screws -- screws which need a special tool to undo them -- Apple has also added lashings to adhesive, all of which makes opening the device for upgrade or repair exceedingly tricky.

On top of this, Wiens criticizes the EPEAT's decision to call any system featuring a USB port as "upgradable" because it can utilizes USB flash storage media.

Back in the summer, Apple announced that it would be pulling all its products from the EPEAT registry. But this backfired when consumers complained about the removal. To make matters worse, the City of San Francisco became the first public agency to pull the plug on Mac purchases because an executive order issued by President George W. Bush in January 2007 required all U.S. federal agencies to use EPEAT when purchasing computer systems.

This culminated with Apple's senior vice president of hardware engineering Bob Mansfield issuing an apology, recognizing "that this was a mistake," and put Apple products back on EPEAT.

No indication was given as to why Apple removed its products from EPEAT in the first place. There was speculation that the way that Apple assembles its new MacBook Pro with Retina display notebooks made them ineligible for certification because the battery was glued into the case.

"If the battery is glued to the case it means you can't recycle the case and you can't recycle the battery," EPEAT's chief executive Robert Frisbee told The Wall Street Journal.

EPEAT's gold certification for the MacBook Pro with Retina display suggests that this is no longer an issue that bothers EPEAT, but it certainly bothers Wiens.

"If the glued-together Retina MacBook Pro meets EPEAT, what computer would not? If other manufacturers follow in Apple's footsteps, it will lead humanity down a perilous path," writes Wiens.

Wiens calls on people who are concerned about this issue to tell EPEAT -- either by emailing the chief executive of EPEAT or via Twitter -- about, "all the awesome upgrades you've done to your computers" in a hope to get them to reconsider the rating for the MacBook Pro with Retina display.

Topics: Apple, Hardware

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  • iFIXIT is just upset that THEY can't fix Apple products.

    This guy is just mad that HE can't fix Apple products. Apple has no issues replacing batteries on their laptops. I' sure they don't throw away the cases each time they replace a battery for a customer.
    • You are an idiot.

      You can't replace the battery in a Retina MacBook because IT IS GLUED TO THE CASE!

      You are obviously an Apple Fanboi that only clicked on the link because it said "Apple". It's understandable that you would immediately jump on iFIXIT seeing that you fit the sterotypical Apple Fanboi mold (a complete idiot, who doesn't know anything about computers, who will listen to anything they see on TV, and who is so dumb that they comment on an article WITHOUT READING THE ENTIRE THING.
      • Please explain

        Please tell us how you know the MacBook Pro with Retina display battery cannot be replaced?
        You went to Apple training and were educated that this is not possible?
        You had an MacBook Pro with Retina display and Apple refused to replace your battery?

        Why you think it can't be replaced, when iFixit themselves in fact disassembled the MacBook Pro with Retina display and then reassembled it back? They could certainly replace the battery. So what is your point?
      • gilly4204

        Um Use something to UNGLUE IT! Boy I am a genius to think of that one Mr. gilly4204 aka HATER!
    • Really?

      I've worked in IT, and I've had the misfortune of trying to deal with a busted Macbook Air. It is the most unfriendly, frustrating system I have ever tried to service and one of the few things where our dept had to tell a user "there is nothing we can do for you. Here's a map to an Apple store. Take your checkbook".

      If the Retina is built on the same principles, then "gold certified" lost a lot of it's meaning. If non-upgradable, extremely hard to service, and more complicated than it needs to be to recycle counts as the maximum, then I'd hate to see what fails.
      James L.
      • Not at all.

        You are taking a single aspect of the EPAT and considering it the ONLY point. Given the huge number of people I know with laptops that:

        a) Never once upgraded them.

        b) Once broke, they never really fixed them.

        The upgradeability and repairability is among the weakest points. While I like iFixit and what they do, this is more sour grapes in that they do not have the knowledge and expertise to deal with the MBP and Airs. The definitions are fairly open but include things like:

        1) Reduction/elimination of environmentally sensitive materials
        2) Material selection
        3) Design for end of life
        4) End-of-life management
        5) Product longevity/life extension
        6) Energy conservation
        7) Corporate performance
        8) Packaging

        So long as Apple has a plan to cover 3&4 I would guess they have the others very well covered. Since Apple will take in all their products for recycling, I am guessing 3&4 are covered. #5 is covered in a couple of ways, is my guess. #1, you have various expansion pots like USB and Thunderbolt and (this is a big one) most studies show the useful lifetime of a Mac laptop is substantially longer (partially because of exceptional resale value) than most Windows PCs.
      • Well alrighty then...

        Apple hardware products are easier to fix hardware wise than Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, etc in my professional IT experience of 20 years of fixing computers and electronics...
    • iFixIt can't no more!

      Exactly right. Sour Grapes on iFixIt, a FOR PROFIT corporation.

      Where is it written that to be "GREEN" you have to be able to open and mess around inside a consumer electronic device?

      Apple has already had the longest most comprehensive FREE recycling program in the CE industry.
  • A clue for Mr. Wiens

    "lead humanity down a perilous path"

    That kind of hyperventilating hysteria immediately labels all your other statements as whackdoodle nutso.
  • Why bother?

    The average Apple user doesn't worry about repairs. They just purchase new.
    • The average Windows user does not bother with repair.

      They also just purchase new.
      • Not entirely true..

        There are signficant numbers of people who build their own systems (enough that Microsoft has progressively made OEM versions of Windows available to end users). Many people also upgrade components in a system. There are several PC laptop makers who even make their laptops relatively upgradable.

        As well, since there are standards for chassis design in the PC world, it's actually cost effective to replace all of the guts of a PC. None of the above is possble for Macs and iDevices.

        The 'disposable PC' has definitely become more common, but it's the ONLY mode for Apple users these days.
        The Werewolf!
        • That significant number is still a very small percentage.

          So what I said is actually 100% true. The average user does not bother with repair.
        • When was the last time

          You built your very own ultraportable?

          Bye the way, you can replace a lot in a Mac. iMac computers, although too pretty come off easily and internally it's just like any other (although well laid and organised). The Mac Pro is pretty much a generic tower "PC" system. All of the iDevices are serviced routinely by Apple.
          What is your point?
        • Replacement

          Replacing a defective part in a built it yourself PC with a new part is still purchasing new. They just know how to put a puzzle together as everything is special slots, color coded, attachments. Building a PC is like putting together a puzzle of Dolphins. Nothing impressive or special.

          No one tests components on a defective part and unsolders the bad capacitor and solders a new one in. Those were the days of built it yourself PCs! I used to do that!
  • Oh no!!!

    This means these Macs are going to hit the landfill as one solid piece rather than a nicely assembled collection of easier to recycle pieces :(

    OK, couldn't help it with the sarcasm. My sarcasm comes from my recent mis-adventures in trying to honestly recycle e-waste and old batteries. It's a joke! As such Mr. Hypoebole "mankind is doomed" is totally focused on the WRONG end of the issue.
    • .

      @oncall, What's the problem? Even my smaller city can drop off the stuff at a Habitat for Humanity ReStore where e cyclers pick them up. Otherwise the major chains like Best Buy take stuff too.
      • This is the problem

        I went with a bag of mixed batteries: lithiums, nicad, NiMH and alkalines. I went to four stores and no store took more than one type of battery. All 4 stores had recycle boxes that were overflowing and/or said please place each battery in its own bag and guess what, no bags. Even so I had a collection of a few hundred batteries there was no way I was bagging each one. The approved e-waste center wanted me to PAY THEM to take my working stuff, and oh yeah, they don't take old batteries. I paid them to take my stuff. But I had a strong feeling that most consumers will just let the trash men take there stuff, after all we already paid for the trash service. Why does only 15% of e-waste actually find its way to a recycle center?

        Like I said...A joke.
    • You've identified the problem

      Why bother with EPEAT certifications if they are meaningless? Are you suggesting then that we get rid of this certification and not reward companies who try to make their devices greener? I think we should fix this so that everyone (not just Apple) that make these horrible devices are exposed for doing so.

      Clearly Apple wants EPEAT certification or they wouldn't have flip flopped. Hmm, Apple sure does flip flop a lot.

      PPC is good, Intel is bad. Introducing the new Intel Mac, our best Mac ever.

      Apps for smartphones are bad, everything should be HTML5. Introducing the App Store.

      7" tablets are terrible. Introducing the 7" iPad Mini.

      EPEAT is bad, we are pulling all our products. EPEAT is good, all our products are certified.

      You just can't make this stuff up.
      • Actually you did just make some of it up.

        In hyperbola and stretching the truth. But then again, you really do not like sticking with the truth and love to obfuscate the concept so it is meaningly.