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Apple's Retina MacBook Pro wins EPEAT Gold status on return

updated 09:44 pm EDT, Fri July 13, 2012

Gets same score as other MacBooks

The sudden pullout -- and subsequent return -- of Apple from the EPEAT certification program it helped create increasingly appears to have been a dispute over the status that have been given to the Retina MacBook Pro if it were submitted, as the two 15-models with the high-resolution display may have been threatened with a lower-than-top ranking, a first for the company. The Retina models now appear on the EPEAT website with Gold rankings.

The rating, which also assigns the same overall score to the Retina models as to the rest of Apple's notebook lineup, may surprise critics who complained that the models are substantially less "repairable" than other notebooks, and that the fusion of the display to the casing and the gluing of the battery make both components more difficult to recycle than in models that don't have those features. The scoring for the Retina MacBook Pro is identical in all categories to the scoring for the non-Retina 15-inch MacBook Pro.

In that scoring, Apple loses points for "Materials selection" and "Energy conservation," without any explanation of what these mean or how Apple could improve them. Apple's notebook line, unlike most of its competition, does not rely on plastic in large quantities and is made out of more-recyclable materials such as aluminum and glass.

Interestingly, even the Retina MBP gets full points for "Product longevity/life cycle extension," an acknowledgement (perhaps) that the company's use of custom batteries and the new fused display is likely (though there will still be exceptions) to decrease the likelihood of defect, which may offset the new machines' lack of easy interior repair. Various government officials and more notably the mayor of San Francisco greeting the news of Apple's return to EPEAT certification warmly, effectively killing plans by some officials to bar some Apple products from federal and state or local institutional buying.

Apple's downloadable PDF brochure for the Retina MacBook Pro's environmental ratings already includes the new EPEAT Gold certification. Apple's Senior Vice President of Hardware Bob Mansfield issued a statement apologizing for Apple's dropping of EPEAT to customers, but pointed out that the entire rest of the product line, though originally withdrawn from the organization's consideration, was still rated "Gold," and that now the Retina and refreshed MacBook line had also achieved the same rating.

In his statement, Mansfield said that withdrawing all Mac products from EPEAT had been "a mistake" but said that the company had made "never changed" its commitment to environmentally-strong products. He pointed out that Apple far surpasses both its competitors and industry standards in environmental friendliness, including exceeding the more-stringent Energy Star 5.2 ratings.

Mansfield's statement also hinted that Apple had returned to the EPEAT fold once it had won some concessions from the ranking body on improving its rating system, which is based loosely on the IEEE 1680.1 standard but has not changed in years. Mansfield implied that Apple was now working with EPEAT to bring its standards more closely in line with the full IEEE 1680.1 implementation, which could also see EPEAT expand its rankings to cover mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, devices that are not currently rated.

For its part, the EPEAT organization also issued a statement welcoming Apple back, and seemed to support Mansfield's position by saying that it "looks forward to Apple's strong and creative thoughts on ongoing standards development." The outcome of talks with Apple, EPEAT CEO Robert Frisbee wrote, "must reward new directions for both design and sustainability, simultaneously supporting the environment and the market for all manufacturers' ... high-performance products."

Frisbee appeared to acknowledge Apple's point by saying that it was "critical" that the organization support "timely standards development ... and the current refresh of the PC/Display standard."

by MacNN Staff



  1. Paul Huang

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 09-18-99

    Read my lips:

    Publicity stunt.

  1. Ratdude

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 10-04-10

    It is as expected

    The areas where Apple fails were related to packaging. And having unboxed one, I am not sure of the problem. The outer box is brown cardboard, the shock numbers dual layer molded cardboard, and the inner box barely larger than the device, and just thick enough for the notebook, the power adapter and the tiny user guide ... Maybe because it is a white color printed box. Gone even are the plastic films in favor of the box material choices to protect it...
    The other area would be the disassembly, well, the display is like any other LCD, except the metal frame is covering the back, the front glass is in your face without any additional - extra - saves-a-piece o'glass layer. So except for the addition of the camera and microphone just a slightly more complex LCD panel. Disassembly is as complex as removing an LCD panel from any laptop, then disassembly of the LCD panel itself.
    If EPEAT would add a commonly used heat gun to their "disassembly with common tools" requirement tool list, then gently heating the case would soften the glue holding the LCD together as well as the batteries to the case bottom. Get a clue from the iPhone repair shops that deal with bonded batteries and the bonded LCD/touch-digitizer/cover-glass to replace the cover glass or digitizer.
    Not that I'd want to repair one, that's why I bought Applecare! But if I absolutely needed a battery from one, I'd get it out without too much of a problem.

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    Really? A publicity stunt?

    Apple is seen by the public and media to be dropping environmental concerns and then has to apologize and come crawling back (again, through the eyes of the public/media) -- that's your idea of a publicity stunt? For whom?

    You'll need to explain your reasoning a bit more on that one, Paul ...

    In fact, of course, almost the opposite ACTUALLY occurred, but I do think that Apple got some egg on their face over this. Still ultimately they ended up getting what they wanted, and I'll lay down a buck that says that the future standards EPEAT is going to adopt are going to be VERY hard for competitors to live up to.

    It's funny how Greenpeace (et al) never seem to shine a light on how polluting and non-recycleable those fake-metal plastic ultrabooks are ...

  1. wrenchy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 11-03-09

    I'll agree with you on that one Huang. Publicity stunt.

  1. macnnoel

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 02-26-05

    Yep, publicity stunt.

    Because nobody seems to be paying attention to Apple these days.


  1. AlenShapiro

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-24-00

    I don't see it as a publicity stunt. How about the scenario where Apple submits the rMBP to EPEAT and they respond with warning of a low certification. Apple pulls all its products from EPEAT, causing that certification body to have second thoughts and award Apple a rMBP Gold Star. Apple says TYVM and reinstates all their Macs.

    A classic case of the tail wagging the dog. Not a sign of weak Apple management nor a publicity stunt. Quite the reverse. Apple publicly eats a little crow but gets a certification it might otherwise not have received.

    Pure speculation but IMHO fits the observed events much better than a publicity stunt or waffling Apple management.

  1. prl99

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 03-24-09

    If you click on Materials Selection, it describes the six criterion. Of course, the only way to really know what these mean is to go to and buy the standards. Sounds like FRAND where we're charged to know what the standard is. Apple meets the three required criteria but fails the other three. I am confused on how you could score a perfect 3/3 when the criteria conflict with each other. As stated in the article, they push plastic.

    Minimum content of postconsumer recycled plastic
    Higher content of postconsumer recycled plastic
    Minimum content of renewable/bio-based plastic material

  1. msuper69

    Professional Poster

    Joined: 01-16-00

    "The rating, which also assigns the same overall score to the Retina models as to the rest of Apple's notebook lineup, may surprise critics who complained that the models are substantially less "repairable" than other notebooks, ..."

    Repairable and recyclable are two entirely different things.

  1. reader50


    Joined: 06-01-00

    Ratdude, you may have hit the Start New Thread button instead of Post Reply. We've put in a bug report on that - there's no obvious reason for a New Thread button INSIDE a thread.

    Moving post to correct thread ... done. If you see this happen again and you're sure you hit Post Reply, please PM me. We're trying to report all the bugs we run into.

  1. Paul Huang

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 09-18-99

    The chassis would have to be heated to a certain temperature before the battery is removed. Everything is difficult when the person doing the disassembly does not understand/know the proper procedure.

  1. And.reg

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 02-22-04

    Greetings. I am unable to delete my posts, and apparently you moderators are on some kind of a strike.

    Therefore, I have removed the content of the original post by hand.

    I am asking for this post to be deleted, since I don't seem to have the option to do that myself.

  1. msuper69

    Professional Poster

    Joined: 01-16-00

    No portable computer has that kind of battery life.

    What's wrong with using glue to hold the battery in place?

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-06-01

    Um, they didn't win gold status. As reported on Macintouch, the submitter of hardware pre-states what they think their hardware status is. Then it gets posted. Then it gets tested. Thus, Apple SAYS it's gold status. EPEAT hasn't confirmed that yet.

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