EPEAT defends Retina MacBook rating: ‘We’re just doing our job’

Karen Haslam
22 October, 2012
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Following claims that EPEAT has dumbed down its environmental tests and incorrectly classified the MacBook Pro with Retina Display as an ultrabook, EPEAT has defended its actions claiming that the review committee was just following instructions.

“The hard fact is that EPEAT has no authority to ‘flunk’ products if they meet the explicit terms of the standard,”EPEAT says in a blog entitled: “Doing Our Job.”

According to EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool): “Regarding upgrade capability, the criteria specifically state that products may be upgraded or extended ‘by a high performance serial bus (IEEE Std 139 [B4]) or Universal Serial Bus (USB)’.”

And regarding disassembly, EPEAT claims: “The criteria investigated are not in any way aimed at refurbishment or repair.”

EPEAT suggests that: “People may think that there should be more in the standard about disassembly for repair and refurbishment – and we welcome their views – but these criteria do not apply to that topic,” reports MacRumors.

The environmental rating agency concludes: “The whole point of the EPEAT system is to drive change … Our goal is to create a new bottom line for environmental innovation that affects the whole global industry for the better.”

EPEAT clarified that it had rewritten the rules for the ultrathin category to address the new form of laptop manufacture in which the body of the computer is formed from a single piece of metal or plastic.

iFixit’s Kyle Wiens suggests that the new clarification of the EPEAT standards is “greenwashing”. He says the EPEAT verification testing classified the 15in Retina MacBook Pro as an ultrathin notebook, despite the fact that it is substantially thicker and more powerful than the MacBook Air.

Greenpeace IT analyst Casey Harrell said: “EPEAT’s announcement today to include computers with difficult-to-replace batteries in its green electronics registry will result in less recycling and more e-waste.”

An investigation of ultrathin laptops, including Apple’s latest Macbook Air, has found they do conform to the EPEAT environmental standard.

News last July that Apple had withdrawn from EPEAT (the system used by US government organisations to help base purchasing decisions based on environmental impact) raised more than a few eyebrows inside the tech industry. It was considered that the Retina MacBook no longer qualified for the EPEAT rating because the laptop was too difficult to dismantle due to the battery being glued in place (easily dismantled laptops are easier to recycle).

However, Apple returned to EPEAT some days later suggesting that the withdrawal had been an error.

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