Apple has abruptly announced that it is withdrawing from a green computer certification scheme prompting San Francisco city authorities to drop its products.
The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) certifies desktops, laptops and monitors against environmental criteria agreed by the industry and supported by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The 1000-plus products from over 300 manufacturers registered with the scheme are more energy efficient, easier to upgrade and recycle and contain lower levels of heavy metals like cadmium, lead and mercury.
While the scheme only currently covers desktops, laptops and monitors, the inclusion of TVs, printers and servers is expected soon. There are, however, no explicit plans yet to add smartphones or tablet computers like Apple’s iPad.
Apple’s decision to withdraw from EPEAT is all the more surprising because it was one of the companies originally involved in drawing up the rating criteria and has come in for increasing criticism in recent times over its environmental profile.
The move will push the company off the approved technology procurement list for many government agencies, universities and corporations – as the city of San Francisco has demonstrated.
“We are disappointed that Apple chose to withdraw from EPEAT, and we hope that the city saying it will not buy Apple products will make Apple reconsider its participation,” Melanie Nutter, director of San Francisco’s Department of Environment, is reported to have commented.
Apple has not explained its reasons but commentators speculate that it could be because its new notebook computers like the MacBook Pro are difficult to upgrade or recycle, putting them at odds with EPEAT criteria.
In a statement, the company said:
“Apple takes a comprehensive approach to measuring our environmental impact and all of our products meet the strictest energy efficiency standards backed by the US government, Energy Star 5.2. [We] also lead the industry by reporting each product's greenhouse gas emissions on our website, and Apple products are superior in other important environmental areas not measured by EPEAT, such as removal of toxic materials.”
For further information:
UK government’s ‘green’ ICT strategy saves £1.3 million (9-Jul)
Apple’s new data centre to run on 100% renewable energy (21-May)
Intel tops list of US renewables-powered organizations (24-Apr)
Google tops Greenpeace ‘Cool IT’ list (9-Feb)
12 July 2012