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Apple backtracks, puts eligible products back on EPEAT list

updated 03:09 pm EDT, Fri July 13, 2012

Mansfield admits withdrawal 'was a mistake'

Apple has reversed course on an earlier decision and put all qualifying products back on a list of products certified to the EPEAT environmental standard. The decision was announced today through an open letter by Bob Mansfield, Apple's soon-to-be-retired senior VP of hardware engineering. "We've recently heard from many loyal Apple customers who were disappointed to learn that we had removed our products from the EPEAT rating system. I recognize that this was a mistake. Starting today, all eligible Apple products are back on EPEAT," the message begins.

Mansfield claims that the company's commitment to the environment has "never changed," and is "as strong as ever." He moreover argues that Apple products are "the most environmentally responsible products" in the industry, often in areas not covered by EPEAT. "For example, Apple led the industry in removing harmful toxins such as brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC)," he goes on. "We are the only company to comprehensively report greenhouse gas emissions for every product we make, taking into account the entire product lifecycle. And we've removed plastics wherever possible, in favor of materials that are more highly recyclable, more durable, more efficient and longer lasting.

"Perhaps most importantly, we make the most energy-efficient computers in the world and our entire product line exceeds the stringent ENERGY STAR 5.2 government standard. No one else in our industry can make that claim."

Mansfield suggests that the IEEE 1680.1 standard would be a "much stronger force for protecting the environment if it were upgraded to include advancements like these," and notes that the EPEAT standard is actually based on it.

"Our relationship with EPEAT has become stronger as a result of this experience, and we look forward to working with EPEAT as their rating system and the underlying IEEE 1680.1 standard evolve," the VP concludes. "Our team at Apple is dedicated to designing products that everyone can be proud to own and use."

In practice, Apple's decision was likely spurred by the prospect of losing orders with a number of businesses and government organizations. The city of San Francisco was the first party to withdraw, and it recently emerged that US federal agencies might follow suit. In recent years Macs have become increasingly popular in enterprise scenarios, something pulling out of EPEAT could have reversed.

by MacNN Staff



  1. wrenchy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 11-03-09

    ZOINKS! Apple admitting they "made a mistake"!! Me thinks hell just froze over!

    Love Wrenchy

  1. reader50


    Joined: 06-01-00

    That would be twice. Hell froze over when Apple released iTunes for Windows.

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    I love how you ignore the actual content (and facts) related to this story.

    Apple didn't suddenly stop making products that MEET or EXCEED all known federal environmental specifications. They still haven't (even the RMBP is still recyclable).

    Bob's "we made a mistake" (which is refreshing to hear a company just come out and say that -- take note, politicians and other companies!) refers to the PR mistake rather than anything Apple actually did wrong. Because they didn't do anything wrong.

    But, since you appear to like it when companies apologise for their mistakes -- and I agree that's a good thing -- I assume you're going to be calling for Google to issue a public apology for stealing code from Apple?

  1. lpkmckenna

    Addicted to MacNN

    Joined: 07-04-04

    It appears to me that Apple's brief walkout was a way to pressure EPEAT to modernize their standards in line with Apple's current design goals. Read between the lines in this:

    "We look forward to Apple’s strong and creative thoughts on ongoing standards development. The outcome must reward new directions for both design and sustainability, simultaneously supporting the environment and the market for all manufacturers’ elegant and high-performance products," EPEAT CEO Robert Frisbee wrote.

    "An interesting question for EPEAT is how to reward innovations that are not yet envisioned with standards that are fixed at a point in time. Diverse goals, optional points awarded for innovations not yet described, and flexibility within specified parameters to make this happen are all on the table in EPEAT stakeholder discussions. And of course, timely standards development, as with newly created Imaging Equipment and Television standards, and the current refresh of the PC/Display standard, is critical as well."


    In other words, Apple was ready to return once EPEAT would commit to "ongoing standards development" that Apple expected. While so many are ready to see this as egg on Apple's face, this is really a win for Apple behind the scenes.

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    I fully concur with lpkmckenna's view on this issue, though I would add that I think Apple DID miscalculate the way the media would overplay the story and how much governments/institutions would over-react (without even waiting to hear Apple's original explanation). Seems like they both overplayed their hands a bit, but in the end they got it worked out -- and EPEAT is actually likely to benefit from Apple's pushing them to upgrade their standards.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-06-01

    Just a bunch of PR bunk. Not all products, just all 'eligible' products, whatever that's supposed to mean (I guess any product that would get a good grade is 'eligible'). And it's just Apple trying to force their will on an organization that doesn't do eveyrthing in their power to agree with Apple. Good luck, Apple, getting the IEEE to change their standard anytime soon!

    But in the end, Apple didn't realize how important it was to have EPEAT certification, even if it isn't "top of the line". I guess all the complaints from large customers and governments made them realize it was a mistake?

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