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Apple bows out of program for environment-minded products

The company's design direction is no longer in keeping with the requirements of a major program devoted to the fostering of environmentally responsible electronics, according to a report.

Edward Moyer Senior Editor
Edward Moyer is a senior editor at CNET and a many-year veteran of the writing and editing world. He enjoys taking sentences apart and putting them back together. He also likes making them from scratch. ¶ For nearly a quarter of a century, he's edited and written stories about various aspects of the technology world, from the US National Security Agency's controversial spying techniques to historic NASA space missions to 3D-printed works of fine art. Before that, he wrote about movies, musicians, artists and subcultures.
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Apple has decided to stop participating in a major program devoted to the production of environmentally friendly products, reportedly saying that its design direction is no longer in line with the program's requirements.

Late last month, Apple told the nonprofit EPEAT group that the company would no longer submit its products for green certification from EPEAT and that it was pulling its currently certified products from the group's registry.

Apple graphics

According to The Wall Street Journal's CIO Journal site, 39 of Apple's products had received EPEAT's green stamp of approval, including laptops such as the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air.

EPEAT, or the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, receives funding from the Environmental Protection Agency and calls itself "the leading global environmental rating system for electronic products, connecting purchasers to environmentally preferable choices and benefiting producers who demonstrate environmental responsibility and innovation."

The U.S. government requires that 95 percent of its electronics bear the EPEAT seal of approval; large companies such as Ford and Kaiser Permanente require their CIOs to buy from EPEAT-certified firms; and many of the largest universities in the U.S. prefer to buy EPEAT-friendly gear, CIO Journal reports.

Apple "said their design direction was no longer consistent with the EPEAT requirements," CIO Journal quotes EPEAT CEO Robert Frisbee as saying. "They were important supporters and we are disappointed that they don't want their products measured by this standard anymore."

Among other things, the EPEAT requirements hold that electronics must be easy to disassemble, so their components can be recycled. The iPhone, the iPad, and the new MacBook Pro with Retina display don't pass muster because of things like batteries and glass displays that are glued to casings and backings. Apple may soon introduce an alternate green standard to apply to its products, CIO Journal reports.

We've contacted Apple for comment and will update this post if and when we hear back. CIO Journal said Apple had declined to comment but had referred the site to the Environment section of Apple's Web site.

The Verge points out that Apple had touted an EPEAT Gold rating for its iMac computer (see screenshot of the relevant Apple page below).


Screenshot by Edward Moyer/CNET