Is the EPEAT rating system on its way to become a national standard?
The National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Better Business Bureau, which was compelled to comment on a greenwashing dispute between Dell and Apple, has ruled that certifications granted through the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) represent "a recognized industry methodology to identify the 'green' characteristics of a computer product" and that "the benefits of EPEAT and gold-rated EPEAT computers are noteworthy and consumers are entitled to be informed of them." For Apple to use EPEAT in its advertising is just fine and dandy, apparently.
Apple has been advertising its MacBook product line as the "world's greenest family of notebooks" based on some EPEAT ratings it has received; Dell has taken issue with those claims.
The NAD DID suggest that Apple change some potentially misleading messaging. While the company has, indeed, been consistently rated high by EPEAT across its entire notebook line there are, in fact, "greener" notebooks listed in the EPEAT system than those producted by Apple. Indeed, three Toshiba notebook models actually have earned the highest Gold ratings by EPEAT.
The dispute is another indication of the need for a more universal way of talking about a product's green-ness, something that is now being taken up by lawmakers in Washington. Here's my blog over on the SmartPlanet site about those efforts.