July 17, 2012
Apple Reverses Plan to Dump Green Registry
by Robert Kropp
The computer giant reverses its decision to leave the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment
Tool registry, calling it a mistake after consumer backlash.
Last week, Apple gained considerable notoriety among environmentalists and consumers when it
announced it will withdraw from the Electronic
Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT), a registry designed to mitigate the negative
environmental and social impacts of electronics. Signatories to EPEAT agree to product designs that
consume less energy and allow for end-of-life recycling.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a member
of EPEAT's advisory council, "EPEAT requires incorporating a minimum of 65 percent reusable or
recyclable components, a take-back service and the reduction or elimination of toxins in
And in an excellent overview of sustainability in the electronics industry,
Conrad MacKerron of As You Sow described
EPEAT as "a useful product evaluation system developed by EPA, the electronics industry, and
stakeholders to help purchasers evaluate the environmental attributes of hundreds of mainstream
Apparently, Apple wanted to introduce unsustainable product designs to
its laptops which would prevent disassembly for recycling. In a statement issued at the time of
Apple's withdrawal, EPEAT expressed "regret" and the hope that Apple would reconsider its decision.
In a reversal noteworthy for occurring at a speed not normally associated with corporate
decisions, Apple did just that within a week of its original announcement. In a statement, Senior Vice President
Bob Mansfield wrote, "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." Calling the original decision
"a mistake," Mansfield continued, "Starting today, all eligible Apple products are back on EPEAT."
In his response to Apple's reversal, EPEAT CEO Robert Frisbee offered "sincere thanks to
the stakeholders whose strong support ensures EPEAT standards and system success."
look forward to Apple's strong and creative thoughts on ongoing standards development," Frisbee
wrote. "The outcome must reward new directions for both design and sustainability, simultaneously
supporting the environment and the market for all manufacturers' elegant and high-performance
During this proxy season, Apple was one of four large computer companies that
responded to shareowner resolutions by agreeing to have their suppliers issue sustainability
reports. Following the successful engagements, the New York City Office of the Comptroller withdrew
all four proposals.