Apple Calls EPEAT Pullout Mistake in Open Letter

Apple admitted the company had made a mistake by withdrawing its products from the EPEAT rating system, a rare admission from the secretive company. Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering Bob Mansfield penned an open letter saying the move was a mistake, and that his company was reversing course and re-adding all eligible products to EPEAT.

Apple VP Bob Mansfield

Apple VP Bob Mansfield

Apple pulled its Mac product line from EPEAT last weekend. EPEAT measures recyclability in computers, and all of Apple’s Mac line had top EPEAT ratings, with the exception of the company’s new MacBook Pro with Retina Display. Speculation is that because the battery in that model is glued in, it wouldn’t get top marks with the group.

At the time of Apple’s pullout, EPEAT officials said that Apple had told them that the company’s, “design direction was no longer consistent with the EPEAT requirements.” A statement later in the week said that company suggested that the company was more interested in focusing on ENERGY STAR standards.

These were themes repeated in Mr. Mansfield’s open letter. The Apple veteran, who announced his retirement in June, made a passionate defense of Apple’s commitment to the environment, particularly when it comes to its products. He said that Apple led the industry in removing harmful toxins from its devices and claimed to be the only company offering a comprehensive greenhouse gas emissions report for, “every product we make.”

He also noted that Apple’s Macs are the “most energy-efficient computers in the world,” and said that Apple’s entire product line exceeded the U.S. government’s ENERGY STAR 5.2 rating, a measure of energy efficiency. “No one else in our industry can make that claim,” Mr. Mansfield wrote.

In the meanwhile, those Macs that qualified for EPEAT certification are back on the list. EPEAT doesn’t currently certify smartphone or tablets, meaning that iPhones and iPads aren’t a part of this discussion.

Bob Mansfield’s open letter in full:

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. I recognize that this was a mistake. Starting today, all eligible Apple products are back on EPEAT.

It’s important to know that our commitment to protecting the environment has never changed, and today it is as strong as ever. Apple makes the most environmentally responsible products in our industry. In fact, our engineering teams have worked incredibly hard over the years to make our products even more environmentally friendly, and much of our progress has come in areas not yet measured by EPEAT.

For example, Apple led the industry in removing harmful toxins such as brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). We are the only company to comprehensively report greenhouse gas emissions for every product we make, taking into account the entire product lifecycle. And we’ve removed plastics wherever possible, in favor of materials that are more highly recyclable, more durable, more efficient and longer lasting.

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 IEEE 1680.1 standard could be a much stronger force for protecting the environment if it were upgraded to include advancements like these. This standard, on which the EPEAT rating system is based, is an important measuring stick for our industry and its products.

Our relationship with EPEAT has become stronger as a result of this experience, and we look forward to working with EPEAT as their rating system and the underlying IEEE 1680.1 standard evolve. Our team at Apple is dedicated to designing products that everyone can be proud to own and use.