Only one week after Apple pulled 39 of its products off the eco-friendly product registry EPEAT, the company has decided to hop back on board. In an open letter posted to Apple’s website, Apple’s Senior VP of Product Engineering Bob Mansfield explained Apple’s stance on the environmental friendliness of its products and acknowledged the EPEAT pull-out as a “mistake.”
“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,” Mansfield wrote.
Mansfield cited Apple’s efforts in removing toxins like brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) from its products, as well as its regular reports on greenhouse gas emissions for each product. He also pointed out that Apple’s entire product line meets or exceeds the current EnergyStar 5.2 standards set by the US government.
“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,” Mansfield continued. “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.”
Apple’s decision to de-list itself from EPEAT came as somewhat of a shock to Apple’s customer base, who is used to hearing the company tout its green efforts at every keynote and on its website. And although membership in EPEAT is voluntary, numerous schools and government agencies require the products they buy to meet EPEAT certification. The City of San Francisco became the first major municipality to announce that it would no longer spend city funds on Apple’s computers after the EPEAT pull-out, with numerous universities and other local governments indicating that they would begin taking a look at their own policies.
Apple initially defended its decision by pointing out that it holds its products to environmental standards that aren’t even measured by EPEAT, but it seems the general public’s reaction to the news was just too much for the company. It’s not often Apple ends up backing out of a major corporate decision so quickly after it was announced (and some might argue that such a thing would never have happened under former CEO Steve Jobs, who was known for his stubbornness). It’s clear, however, that the company saw some value in re-joining EPEAT—if only to save face in light of the poor public reaction.