iFixit chief executive: EPEAT 'caved in to Apple'

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.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

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.

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