Apple Admits Mistake in Leaving EPEAT, Greenpeace Ratings Rise

After announcing earlier this week that it would no longer participate in EPEAT environmental certification for its computers, Apple quickly changed its mind.

Responding to negative feedback from "many loyal customers," Apple has rejoined the EPEAT.

"We look forward to Apple’s strong and creative thoughts on ongoing standards development," says EPEAT CEO Robert Frisbee. "The outcome must reward new directions for both design and sustainability, simultaneously supporting the environment and the market for all manufacturer’ elegant and high-performance products."

The company acknowledged its "mistake" in an letter posted by Bob Mansfield, senior vice president of hardware engineering, in the environmental information section of Apple’s website.

"Weve recently heard from many loyal Apple customers who were disappointed to learn that we had removed our products from the EPEAT rating system," says Mansfield. "I recognize that this was a mistake. Starting today, all eligible Apple products are back on EPEAT." 

EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool)reduces the environmental impact of computer desktops, laptops, and monitors by certifying them on 51 environmental criteria. EPEAT-registered computers contain lower levels of cadmium, lead, and mercury, are more energy efficient and are easier to upgrade and recycle. Apple makes 39 registered products.

In the letter, Mansfield cites Apple’s leadership in removing brominated flame retardants and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) from its products, along with its replacement of plastics where possible. Mansfield’s comments also hint toward possible changes to the underlying criteria EPEAT uses to rank products. He writes: 

"Perhaps most importantly, we make the most energy-efficient computers in the world and our entire product line exceeds the stringent ENERGY STAR 5.2 government standard. No one else in our industry can make that claim. We think the standard could be a much stronger force for protecting the environment if it were upgraded to include advancements like these."

Apple Gets "Ds and Cs" Instead of "F" for Data Centers

Apple also gained a bit more credibility this week for its energy consumption in data centers from one if its harshest critics, Greenpeace. 

After being at the bottom of the list for its industry in How Dirty is Your Data Center and not even rated in Greenpeace’s Cool IT Leaderboard, Apple turned a new leaf at its new data center in North Carolina, which is powered by innovative energy efficiency techniques and large renewable energy systems.

In its new analysis, A Clean Energy Road Map for Apple, Greenpeace congratulates Apple for big improvements in using clean energy, but the company still gets poor grades when compared with its industry peers, such as Dell, Google, Facebook and Akamai.

Although it’s nothing to cheer about, Apple no longer Fails for infrastructure citing, it gets a "D", and it moved up from "D" to "C" for  energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, and for use of renewables and advocacy on them.

Greenpeace continues to criticize Apple for its lack of transparency regarding "coal-free" commitments and the energy sources for iCloud, giving it a "D" on transparency.

"Ultimately if Apple wants to get serious about its commitment to a coal-free iCloud, the most important thing it can do is use its buying leverage with Duke Energy and other utilities to push for cleaner electricity options. … Just as Apple has been widely asked to actively engage with other aspects of its supply chain to push for fairer labor standards, Apple must do the same with its electricity supply chain." 

Here’s Greenpeace’s updated analysis:

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