I'm thinking I owe GreenTech Pastures readers an update on the state of my Apple PowerBook G4, which now is resting comfortably on the desk behind me, although it's in a bit of rehab with some applications that have disappeared. (Yes, I have two computers, so shoot me.) One of them was given to me and is four years old, so I'm doing my part when it comes to reuse. In any event, it seems as if disaster has been averted, although I now have a new philosophy toward file management and de-dupe after this scare.
Nonetheless, I did some preliminary research on my options for buying a new green notebook, because that seemed the right thing to do as someone who is writing about green tech. And, to my dismay but not really to my surprise, I found that Apple wouldn't meet my needs in that department.
Using the EPEAT (Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool) search engine, I checked out the profiles for the latest series of Apple notebooks. Sadly, although many of them carry the Silver level certification (more on that in a moment), there were none certified at the Gold level. At least today, Friday, May 16.
The only systems that have managed to earn Gold recognition include:
- Some members of the Toshiba Portege R500 and M700/710 series, as well as the Tecra M9-PTM91U, Tecra A9-PTS52U and Tecra A9-PTS53U
- Several models in the Dell Latitude 630/631 series
- The HP Compaq 2510p and 2710p
- Lenovo's ThinkPad X300
A word about EPEAT's rankings: Bronze, Silver and Gold. The base means simply that a product has met the 23 required criteria; Silver means the technology has met the base level plus 50 percent of the optional requirements; and Gold means the product has met the base criteria plus 75 percent of the optional ones.
I don't think I've ever included this information in a blog entry. I'm not going to list every single criteria, because you can find them here. But here's a high-level overview of how the systems are evaluated:
- Reduction/elimination of environmentally sensitive materials (this includes compliance with the European RoHS directive, eliminating materials such as mercury, lead, hexavalent chromium, flame retardants, cadmium from the components included in the system).
- Materials selection - This looks at the way systems include post-consumer recycled materials and looks for a minimum level of things like recycled plastics.
- Design for end of life - Identification of materials that require special handling, easy disassembly, ways to remove components that have hazardous substances in them.
- Product longevity/lifecycle extension - Basically whether or not the system can be upgraded easily and whether or not the design is modular.
- Energy conservation - Energy Star specification support and support for renewable energy accessories.
- End of life management - Provisions for take-back and recycling.
- Corporate performance - Compliance by the manufacturer with certain green manufacturing guidelines.
- Packaging - Is the manufacturer trying to reduce waste and is the packaging recyclable?