EPEAT finds MacBook Air, other laptops meet 'green' standards

The review of notebooks from Apple, Lenovo, Samsung, and Toshiba comes after Apple quietly but briefly withdrew from the environmental group's device certification program.

The MacBook Air. Sarah Tew/CNET

An environmental standards group that rates electronics for their environmental friendliness cleared five ultrathin laptops as conforming to its "green" standards, including Apple's MacBook Air.

The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) announced Friday that its investigation of notebooks sold by Apple, Lenovo, Samsung, and Toshiba met the group's review criteria and as such were in compliance with its "green rating." Specific areas of concern for the government-backed group included whether products were upgradeable, whether upgrades could be accomplished with commonly available tools, and whether materials such as batteries could be easily removed.

"EPEAT is committed to foster greener electronics and to give purchasers the tools to evaluate green claims," Robert Frisbee, CEO of EPEAT, said in a statement. "The system's rigorous environmental assessment processes result from a powerful stakeholder collaboration that includes purchasers, environmental advocates, government, manufacturer, recycler and academic participants. This latest series of stringent investigations demonstrates the power of that approach."

Made up of hardware manufacturers, recyclers, and advocacy groups, EPEAT focuses specifically on hardware recycling rather than toxins and carbon emissions connected with the products themselves.

The review was launched after Apple quietly ended its participation with EPEAT, sparking concern that the move would affect purchasing of Apple's products by governments and other organizations that require some of their purchasing orders to hold EPEAT certifications. Apple soon reversed course, saying the company will once again have its products rated by the organization.

It was suggested at the time that Apple's withdrawal occurred because some of the company's products, including the new MacBook Pro with Retina display, didn't pass muster because of things like batteries and glass displays that are glued to casings and backings.

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