Apple: We’re Green, Really
Turns out this Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) wants to be green after all. Faced with losing government and education sales owing to its withdrawal from the EPEAT environmental rating system, Apple has abruptly reversed course, calling its withdrawal a “mistake” and saying it will rejoin the registry.
“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,” said Bob Mansfield, Apple senior vice president, hardware engineering, in a letter posted on the company’s website. “I recognize that this was a mistake. Starting today, all eligible Apple products are back on EPEAT,” he said.
(ZDNet reported in late June that Mansfield will retire from Apple, replaced by Dan Riccio, Apple vice president, iPad hardware engineering and a 14-year company veteran, a transition the vendor said would take “several months.”)
Following Mansfield’s statement, Robert Frisbee, EPEAT chief executive, confirmed, in an open letter posted on the registry’s website, that “all of Apple’s previously registered products, and a number of new products, are back on the EPEAT registry.”
Mansfield and Frisbee both pledged that the brief flap had yielded an improved relationship between the two organizations. Neither executive elaborated on what caused the dispute in the first place.
Word surfaced last week that Apple, without explanation, unexpectedly removed 39 of its desktops and notebooks from the EPEAT registry — a certification in which it had a founding hand, and whose standards are commonly regarded as guidelines for environmentally friendly IT procurement by government agencies, cities, educational institutions and some businesses.
EPEAT’s database doesn’t include Apple’s smartphones or tablets, both of which produce high sales volume for the vendor.
The immediate response by some cities and universities to Apple’s EPEAT pullout may have caught the vendor off guard. San Francisco, for example, said that it could no longer purchase Apple computers because its rules for product procurement call for EPEAT certification, while Cornell University and the University of California, Berkeley said they would take a second look at their Apple purchases based on the vendor’s statement of non-support for EPEAT.
Moreover, Apple’s move potentially threatened the public sector sales of some of its channel partners.
But, in the end, the dustup appears to be one of no harm, no foul.
“It’s important to know that our commitment to protecting the environment has never changed, and today it is as strong as ever,” Mansfield said. “Apple makes the most environmentally responsible products in our industry.”
For his part, Frisbee said that EPEAT will “look forward to Apple’s strong and creative thoughts on ongoing standards development.”
It should be noted that EPEAT’s challenge to Apple’s environmental attitude is not the first, only the most recent, such skirmish involving the company. A report in PC World noted that Greenpeace last year tagged Apple for its use of so-called “dirty” data centers and, in April, 2012, followed up with another low grade for the vendor, the accuracy of which Apple disputes.