Apple admits ditching EPEAT was a mistake

Facing harsh criticism after withdrawaing its products from the EPEAT registry, Apple retracted its position on Friday.

In an open letter posted on the company’s website, Senior VP of Hardware Engineering Bob Mansfield admitted that the move “was a mistake,” and said all eligible Apple products will be restored to the registry effective immediately.

On Tuesday, EarthTechling reported that Apple had suddenly abandoned EPEAT, a non-profit environmental rating system for electronics, especially computing products.

The move left many Apple enthusiasts puzzled, as the brand has worked hard to develop a more sustainable, eco-friendly image over the past few years. 

Some suspected that a decision to permanently glue-in certain components of the new MacBook Pro with Retina display could have catalyzed the move. Gluing in parts renders electronic devices nearly impossible to recycle.

Following 24 hours of online criticism and speculation, Apple issued a statement defending its decision to leave EPEAT, implying that because EPEAT wasn’t comprehensive enough, it wasn’t worth the effort to submit products for certification. 

As a result, the City of San Francisco announced that it would no longer purchase Apple products, and several other city governments and universities said they too would re-examine their procurement policies. Today it seems that the public outcry has been successful.

Although Apple will once again submit its products for EPEAT certification, it hopes the registry will take some of its complaints into consideration.

“We think the IEEE 1680.1 standard could be a much stronger force for protecting the environment if it were upgraded to include advancements like [energy efficiency and removal of toxic materials],” wrote Mansfield. This standard, on which the EPEAT rating system is based, is an important measuring stick for our industry and its products.”

EPEAT issued its own statement about Apple’s reversal, saying, “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.”

Beth Buczynski, EarthTechling