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Apple Pulls Products From EPEAT Environmental Rating System: Why?

Macbook Pro

Apple’s recent decision to withdraw its products from a green rating registry could alienate environmentalists, but will the average customer care? Last month Apple announced it would pull its products from EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool), a rating system used to assess the recyclability and energy efficiency of electronic products.

Recycling is a big issue in the electronics sector, as many electronic gadgets are difficult to disassemble and hard to recycle because of their toxic components. And as electronics play an increasingly prominent role in people’s lives, these issues cannot be ignored.

The move may be startling to some, since EPEAT was designed by the Environmental Protection Agency and several electronics manufacturers (including Apple). So why the sudden change of heart regarding the rating system?

Although the company has been pushed for an explanation, the only statement Apple made was that “their design direction was no longer consistent with the EPEAT requirements.”

Of course Apple insists that its products undergo rigorous environmental measures before being released to the market. It reports the greenhouse gas emissions of all its products on its website and ensures its electronics are energy efficient. Indeed it would seem that Apple has imposed environmental factors that EPEAT did not assess.

Some have argued that the infamous electronics manufacturer is merely suggesting the EPEAT rating system is incomplete.

But my opinion is that Apple is one of those companies that embraces sustainability only when it helps its bottom line. If incorporating green elements into its business model may improve its profitability (without costing the company too much) it will embrace those green elements. But if embracing a particular green policy is too constraining for the company (e.g. restricts their design options) then they won’t embrace that policy.

What are your thoughts on Apple’s withdrawal from the EPEAT rating system?

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