A view of the main entrance to Apple Inc. in Cupertino, California on March 11, 2011. AFP PHOTO/Ryan Anson/AFP/Getty Images
Sometimes, the people really do have the power.
It was just two days ago when we reported that computer company Apple had yanked 39 products from EPEAT, a government regulated global registry of environmentally friendlier products that Apple helped establish.
Fallout from the move was swift, with a public outcry that included Greenpeace and the city of San Francisco, which announced it would no longer purchase Apple products due to the voluntary decertification.
As reported by Yahoo News, the backlash was loud enough that Apple has done an about-face, announcing today that as many products as possible would be returned to the EPEAT registry.
“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,” said Bob Mansfield, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware engineering in a public statement.
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It was announced this week that the same environmental organization that charged Apple’s Chinese production partners with poor pollution practices is going to be working with the digital hardware maker to audit operations at one of the company’s suppliers.
Historically, Apple was not been forthcoming with their manufacturing partners. This new agreement will mark the first time the company has ever revealed the names of those partners, making it easier for environmental organizations to track the sustainability (or lack thereof) in the process. In this case, an unnamed maker of printed circuit boards will be the focus of an environmental review slated to start in “the next few weeks,” according to CNET.
“We are happy Apple is now opening its door,” said Shen Xunan, a project officer at the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs in Beijing to Business Week. After the organization criticized Apple last fall for working with suppliers who endangered public health through pollution, the company has made a very public effort to remedy the situation. Apple has yet to comment on the any of their environmental efforts outside of information provided on the company’s website.
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Apple, the company that makes a large number of your (um, our) cell phones and computers, is in need of a little good news. The digital giant has taken a big PR hit of late, with reports of questionable employee conditions in their Chinese factories resulting in this week’s ABC “Nightline” expose.
Yesterday, Apple took to the company website to announce something decidedly more upbeat: details of their massive new data center in Maiden, North Carolina that will be primarily powered with renewable energy. CNET reports that the 500,000-square-foot facility will cost a cool $1 billion, and has already earned LEED's highest award – a Platinum certification – for what Apple has planned.
“We know of no other data center of comparable size that has achieved this level of LEED certification,” says Apple’s website. “Apple’s goal is to run the Maiden facility with high percentage renewable energy mix, and we have major projects under way to achieve this — including building the nation’s largest end user-owned solar array and building the largest nonutility fuel cell installation in the United States.”