Apple rejoins EPEAT, claims top rating for MacBook Pro

Apple has rejoined a green ratings agency, declaring its Retina MacBook Pro good enough to win Gold certification.

Apple rejoins EPEAT, claims top rating for MacBook Pro

Last week, Apple pulled out of the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT), a green registry that US government agencies use to ensure computer products are environmentally responsible and recyclable. The city of San Francisco has already said it would be unable to buy Apple products because of the move.

Apple didn’t say why it pulled out of the green registry, but at the time EPEAT’s CEO Robert Frisbee suggested it was a “design” concern, saying the Retina MacBook Pro would not have been certified by the body. “If the battery is glued to the case it means you can’t recycle the case and you can’t recycle the battery,” he said at the time.

However, the Retina laptops are now listed on the registry with a Gold rating. EPEAT wasn’t available for comment at the time of writing.

Teardown site iFixit – which claimed the MacBook Pro battery spilled “hazardous goo” when taken apart – said that EPEAT’s certifications are based on a “self-declaration system, backed by after-the-fact verification”.

“Basically, that means Apple can submit products to the registry and have them listed on the site before the products have been reviewed by anyone at EPEAT, either on paper or in person,” co-founder and CEO Kyle Wiens noted in the iFixit blog. “The MacBook Pro with Retina Display and other products released last month are all listed as Gold certified, but that only means Apple has declared those products as such.”

He said iFixit was “sceptical” of Apple’s claim that the Retina MacBook Pro met EPEAT’s standard for “easy disassembly”.

EPEAT’s Frisbee confirmed to magazine Fast Company that EPEAT had not fully verified Apple’s claim for the MacBook Pro, and admitted it only does spot checks. Frisbee said verifying the Retina MacBook Pro will be a priority, but wouldn’t say when it would happen.

Standards versus innovation

Frisbee said on the EPEAT website that it was difficult for standards bodies to keep up with new products. “An interesting question for EPEAT is how to reward innovations that are not yet envisioned with standards that are fixed at a point in time,” he said. “Diverse goals, optional points awarded for innovations not yet described, and flexibility within specified parameters to make this happen are all on the table in EPEAT stakeholder discussions.”

Apple said it rejoined EPEAT after listening to customer concerns. “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,” said Bob Mansfield, senior vice president of hardware engineering, in an open letter on Apple’s site. “I recognise that this was a mistake.”

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