Thursday, July 12, 2012

Apple Drops EPEAT - Apple Products Now Essentially Becoming Disposable?

A few days ago PCMag reported that "that Apple has officially withdrawn its 39 products from EPEAT certification – that's the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, a program that awards products with "gold," "silver," or "bronze" classification based on how well they meet a variety of environmental-themed criteria including recyclability, energy consumption, and environmental impact."

In order to make the case of the new 15-inch "retina" MacBook Pro as slim as possible, did Apple pretty make it impossible to replace the battery? At over 100K, well that is a lot for a disposable product.

It appears to be because Apple's current designs for the iPad 3 and "retina" MacBook Pro use glue to affix the battery and other components to the case, making it not feasible to recycle the case and the battery.

iPad's were always hard to repair. With a glued battery the new iPad "3" is even harder.

This decision by Apple must have come after some thought. Without EPEAT certification, it means US Federal agencies won't be able to buy Apple products. This was not a big issue because the US Government and US Army have selected the Android platform for their own use. The ability to be able to modify the Android operating system to fit their own needs was no doubt a big reason for the adoption of Android by the US Government and military agencies.

While States and Cities are not required to only buy EPEAT certified products, the Wall Street Journal reports City of San Francisco has also said it will no longer be buying Apple products because of Apple's withdrawal from EPEAT certification. The City of San Francisco adopted EPEAT certification as mandatory in 2007.

The main reason to drop out of EPEAT would be for lower production cost coupled with of consumer demand for thinner and lighter devices. Using glue, rather than mounting parts, makes it easier and cheaper to achieve this. This is bad for the environment, and bad for the consumer.

As Phone Arena points out, by "gluing the battery, Apple makes it extremely hard to repair its latest products, which means that it basically treats them as disposable electronics with lifetimes largely limited by the lifetime of their battery." In fairness, I doubt if it is only Apple that is making its some of its devices disposable in the interest of lower manufacturing cost. There is no EPEAT certification for smartphones and tablets. You, the consumer will decide if this becomes the norm.

Want to check which electronic devices are EPEAT certified? Follow this link.

Update: A few days after announcing it's withdrawal from EPEAT, Apple issued this statement: “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.”

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