Federal agencies and educational institutions in the US may be no longer able to buy Apple products since Apple has decided that it will no longer put its products up for assessment by the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT).

EPEAT is an environmental rating that helps identify greener computers and other electronic equipment. To qualify for the rating, products meet environmental ‘performance categories’ that include product lifetime, toxic materials, and recyclability of components and packaging materials.

According to EPEAT director of outreach Sarah O’Brien corporations like Ford and HSBC require CIOs to purchase computers from sources that are EPEAT certified. In addition, the US government requires 95% of the electronics it purchases be EPEAT certified.

In addition, 222 out of 300 American universities surveyed in 2010 said that their IT departments give preference to EPEAT certified computers, O’Brien told Wall Street Journal’s CIO Journal.

According to iFixIt it is likely that Apple has pulled out of EPEAT because its recently launched MacBook Pro with Retina Display is so difficult to disassemble that it is ineligible for certification.

EPEAT sources told iFixIt that Apple’s mobile design direction is in conflict with the intended direction of the standard. They noted that the standard rates a product’s “disassemble-ability,” which is an important consideration for recycling. According to the source: “External enclosures, chassis, and electronic subassemblies shall be removable with commonly available tools or by hand.”

iFixIt notes that they were unable to remove the battery from the MacBook Pro with Retina Display. The report states: “When we originally tore down the Retina MacBook Pro, we could not separate the battery from the upper case. The next day, after a lot of elbow grease, we were finally able to get them apart - but in the process punctured the battery, leaking hazardous goo all over.” This is an issue for EPEAT because recyclers need to take out hazardous components such as batteries before sending computers through their shredders.

CEO of EPEAT Robert Frisbee told the Wall Street Journal’s CIO Journal: “They [Apple] said their design direction was no longer consistent with EPEAT requirements.”

Frisbee added: “They were important supports and we are disappointed that they don’t want their products measured by this standard anymore.”

Frisbee agreed with iFixIt’s analysis the poor “disassemble-abilty” of the MacBook Pro with Retina Display, thanks to the stuck in battery, would have made it ineligible for certification. He told CIO Journal: “If the battery is glued to the case it means you can’t recycle the case and you can’t recycle the battery.”

Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu noted that it is a case of Apple putting design first. He said: “They are not trying to purposely make it hard to open, they are just trying to pack as much as they can into a small space - it’s a design decision.”

Apple has notified EPEAT that it is withdrawing its products from the EPEAT

EPEAT has issued a statement saying: “We regret that Apple will no longer be registering its products in EPEAT. We hope that they will decide to do so again at some point in future.”

Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices, are not presently certified by EPEAT.

Apple has a section on its website that contains reports on the environmental impact of its products. Apple also offers several recycling programs through its stores and website.


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