Apple Re-Registers With EPEAT, Says Leaving Was 'A Mistake'


Apple has re-registered all its eligible products with the EPEAT environmental standards registry, overturning its highly criticized decision last week to remove itself from the program.

Bob Mansfield, senior vice president of hardware engineering at Apple, announced Apple’s decision to re-register its products in an open letter on the company’s web site. He said that Apple’s initial decision to remove its products from EPEAT, an organization backed by the federal government that sets standards for environmentally safe electronics, was "a mistake."

"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," Mansfield wrote. "I recognize that this was a mistake. Starting today, all eligible Apple products are back on EPEAT."

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Mansfield stressed that Apple's commitment to protecting the environment is "as strong as ever," and that it looks forward to a continued partnership with EPEAT.

Last week, Apple removed 39 of its products from EPEAT's list of certified electronics, including several of its Mac desktop and MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lines of notebooks. Robert Frisbee, CEO of EPEAT, said Apple decided to pull its products from the registry because its product "design direction" no longer coincided with EPEAT’s requirements.

Apple’s new MacBook Pro with Retina display, for instance, would not quality for EPEAT certification, Frisbee said. Its ultra-thin design requires its battery be glued to its case, which makes it non-recyclable.

Apple's initial decision to withdraw its products from the EPEAT program was widely met with criticism, most notably by the City of San Francisco, which said it would prohibit its 50 municipal agencies from making future purchases of Apple products using city funds.

According to Sarah O’Brien, director of outreach for EPEAT, the U.S. government requires 95 percent of all its tech-related purchases to be EPEAT-certified, meaning other public-sector groups could have followed suit if Apple had not rejoined the registry.

John Convery, executive vice president of vendor relations at Denali Advanced Integration, an Apple partner and solution provider based in Redmond, Wash., felt Apple’s initial move to drop the EPEAT label from its products could potentially hurt its own sales, along with those of its partners.

"When 95-plus percent of all products purchased by federal agencies have to be EPEAT-certified, it’s a big deal," Convery told CRN after Apple withdrew from the registry last week. "Certainly this move from Apple will affect government sales and impact all the public-sector solution providers who sell Apple into this market."

After Apple said it was rejoining EPEAT, in a follow-up email, Convery said he was pleased to see Apple respond so quickly to industry feedback and ultimately reverse its decision.

"It is also very refreshing to see Apple review this matter, realize they made a mistake, and take action to fix it," he wrote.

PUBLISHED JULY 16, 2012