Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

Apple drops green standard, loses business in San Francisco

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In a somewhat surprising move, digital giant Apple last week pulled 39 of the company’s desktop computers, laptops and monitors from EPEAT, a global registry of environmentally-friendlier products regulated by the government and in part created by Apple.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, EPEAT is federally funded by the EPA and a group of manufacturers, and “awards products a seal to certify they are recyclable and designed to maximize energy efficiency and minimize environmental harm.”

“They said their design direction was no longer consistent with the EPEAT requirements,” said Rob Frisbee, CEO of EPEAT to the Journal. “They were important supporters and we are disappointed that they don’t want their products measured by this standard anymore.”

The move comes close on the recent announcement of Apple’s most recent MacBook Pro with retina display, which comes with the battery pack glued to the machine among other features that make the model extremely difficult to repair.

Response to the move has been swift, with environmentalists publically voicing dismay at the sudden decertification.

Apple "has pitted design against the environment, and chosen design,” said Greenpeace spokesperson Casey Harrell to the Mercury News. “They're making a big bet that people don't care, but recycling is a big issue."

Where the removal of the tag gets most problematic is with government agencies and educational institutions that often prefer and even demand EPEAT certification in computers (corporations like Ford and Kaiser Permanente require CIOS purchase computers from EPEAT-certified sources). The city of San Francisco has already announced that they will no longer be purchasing Apple computers as a result.

“We are disappointed that Apple chose to withdraw from EPEAT,” said Melanie Nutter, director of San Francisco’s Department of Environment to the Journal, “and we hope that the city saying it will not buy Apple products will make Apple reconsider its participation.”

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