Apple drops green certification "over MacBook design"
By Nicole Kobie
Posted on 9 Jul 2012 at 09:29
Apple has pulled out of a green certification programme, saying it no longer fits with its "design direction".
The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) is a US-based environmental certification system, which rates laptops, desktops and monitors to make it easier to buy green computers. All of Apple's related products have been Gold Certified over the past five years.
Apple has now told EPEAT it will pull out of its registry and will no longer submit its products for environmental ratings. "We regret that Apple will no longer be registering its products in EPEAT," the group said. "We hope that it will decide to do so again at some point in future."
EPEAT didn't say in its official announcement why Apple was leaving the registry, and the company wasn't immediately available for comment, but the certification body's CEO Robert Frisbee told the Wall Street Journal that Apple's departure was due to the design of its products.
They said their design direction was no longer consistent with the EPEAT requirements
"It said its design direction was no longer consistent with the EPEAT requirements,” Frisbee told the newspaper, saying the company wouldn't elaborate further.
He noted that the latest MacBook Pro wouldn't have been certified by EPEAT because it was too difficult to take apart. “If the battery is glued to the case it means you can’t recycle the case and you can’t recycle the battery,” Frisbee said.
Too tough to repair?
The news follows a report from iFixit that also suggested the latest MacBook Pro was difficult to take apart and recycle. The report was dismissed by many at the time - with PC Pro columnist Jon Honeyball saying "these devices have moved beyond being user serviceable".
iFixit claims the timing of Apple's withdrawal must be linked to the new laptop. "It’s no coincidence that the decision came just weeks after the release of the very-difficult-to-repair MacBook Pro with Retina Display," co-founder and CEO Kyle Wiens said in a post on the iFixit blog. "Electronics recyclers need to take out hazardous components such as batteries before sending computers through their shredders, because batteries can catch fire when punctured."
"That’s why it’s such a problem when manufacturers glue batteries into place with industrial-strength adhesive. When we originally tore down the Retina MacBook Pro, we could not separate the battery from the upper case," Wiens said. "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."
Apple continues to offer its own take back and recycling programme, but the Wall Street Journal report and iFixit both said the move could take Apple off US federal procurement lists, which require EPEAT certification. Apple is rated fourth in Greenpeace's Guide to Green Electronics out of 15 companies, and continues to meet other green certifications, notably Energy Star for power use.
Major PC rivals - including Dell, Lenovo and HP - continue to use the EPEAT rating system. However, Dell's Ultrabooks, the XPS 13 and XPS 14, have received silver certification from EPEAT, while Toshiba's Portege Z830 has been awarded gold. HP's Envy Spectre 14 and SpectreXT won gold certification, and the Folio 13 was awarded silver.
Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 also has gold certification - however, its IdeaPad Ultrabooks aren't listed in the US registry, nor is the Asus Zenbook.
Good that somebody is taking recycling seriously
If 'proper' recycling is difficult, it will be trempting for less scrupulous operators to ship stuff to the developing world for 'manual' recycling.
I'm sure we've all seen what can happen to 'recycled' electronics in parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America.
This essentially consists in the salvagable bits (PCBs, disks, etc) being manually stripped, often by children. The components (chips, resistors, capacitors etc) that can be saved are put to one side.
Once stripped PCBs and such are then dunked in unpleasant chemicals in order to release metals like copper & gold. These chemicals are then treated further in order to precipitate the metals. All of these processes are incredibly unhealthy: most of the metals and chemicals involved are toxic, to a greater or leser extent.
Although Apple offers a recycling scheme for its products, I'd like to see what proportion of its sales it recycles....
By wittgenfrog on 9 Jul 2012
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