Puzzled as to why Apple has announced that it’s pulling out of the “green” Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) environmental rating system for electronic products? iFixIt’s Kyle Wiens contends that there’s a simple explanation. Ergo: maintaining EPEAT compliance would cramp Apple’s style – literally.
Wiens notes that federal agencies will no longer buy Apple products for their offices after the pull-out from EPEAT, which was developed by the Green Electronics Council with a grant from the EPA in 2006, and tasked with mitigating negative environmental and social impacts of electronics manufacturing by requiring that products meet eight environmental performance categories, including product lifetime, toxic materials, and recyclability of components and packaging materials.
Wiens says that since 2007, all of Apple’s new products have been EPEAT Gold Certified, and federal agencies can only purchase products that meet the EPEAT standard. He believes that it’s no coincidence that Apple’s pull-out decision came just weeks after release of its very-difficult-to-repair MacBook Pro with Retina Display, for which EPEAT certification was quietly left out of Apple’s marketing material.
According to Wiens’s EPEAT contacts, Apple’s mobile design direction is in conflict with the intended direction of the environmental standard, which imposes particular requirements for product disassemble-ability, which is a major consideration for recycling. The standard dictates that external enclosures, chassis, and electronic subassemblies must be removable with commonly available tools or by hand, because it poses difficulty when manufacturers glue batteries to the device chassis with industrial-strength adhesive as Apple has chosen to do with the Retina MacBook Pro.
Wiens concludes that Apple’s decision to opt out of these most basic product eco-standards demonstrates that in Apple’s world design-coolness supersedes concern for the environment.
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