City of San Francisco to stop buying Apple computers

City officials tell the Wall Street Journal that city money can't be used to buy Apple desktops and laptops. The change comes after Apple withdrew its products from a green-certification registry.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Donna Tam
2 min read
Sarah Tews/CNET

The City of San Francisco won't be buying Apple computers anymore because the company pulled its products from a green-electronics certification registry, the Wall Street Journal reported today.

City officials told the Journal that employees of the city's 50 agencies won't be able to use city funds to buy Apple laptops or desktops because Apple removed those products from a voluntary registry of green electronics called EPEAT.

San Francisco's chief information officer, Jon Walton, told CNET that the change is due to an established policy requires the city purchase only EPEAT-certified desktops, laptops, and monitors. While there is a wavier process for special equipment -- like a police computer that requires a particular technology -- it is lengthy and many departments don't take on the wait, he said.

The EPEAT registry was created by government agencies, activist groups, and manufacturers, including Apple, and requires electronics be easy to recycle and have higher energy efficiency.

Officials hope Apple will reconsider taking its products off the list, but EPEAT CEO Robert Frisbee told the Journal that Apple's latest laptop, the MacBook Pro with its high-resolution Retina screen, would not have been eligible for certification because the computer's battery is glued into its case, which makes recycling the toxic parts difficult.

According to stats from the Journal, this won't be much of a blow to Apple. Only about 500 to 700, or 1 percent to 2 percent total, of San Francisco computers are Macs. Walton couldn't confirm the numbers, but said the city is hopeful Apple will reconsider the certification or present the city with their own standards to keep San Francisco environmentally friendly.

"I'm hopeful since we haven't had a dialogue with Apple on this, and we're not really clear why they chose to do this, that they may have other standards," he said, adding that the city's environmental department has reached out to Apple, but he's not sure if they have connected on the issue.

We've contacted Apple for more details and we will update as we get more information.

Update, 6:03 p.m. PT: Updated with comments from Jon Walton.