July 16, 2012, 3:12 PM — Apple has come a long way from the days when Steve Jobs told environmental protesters outside a MacWorld Expo to "get out of the computer business [and] go save some whales," but its latest flub over green standards shows that the company, which is so pitch perfect in desiging consumer electronic products, still doesn't quite get this green stuff yet.
Apple withdrew a few weeks ago from a program, EPEAT, that sets environmental standards for computer products. Since Apple products exceed the EPEAT standards and some products, like smartphones and tablets, which represent a substantial part of the company's business, aren't even covered by the standards, the company argued that it had no need to participate in EPEAT.
Apple's withdrawal from EPEAT raised protestations from the environmental community and put the company's products on the fast track for exclusion from use by governments, from municipalities to the feds, as well as universities. With pressure mounting from all directions, Apple admitted it made a mistake.
"Weve recently heard from many loyal Apple customers who were disappointed to learn that we had removed our products from the EPEAT rating system," Apple Senior Vice President Bob Mansfield writes in a letter posted to Apple's website. "I recognize that this was a mistake. Starting today, all eligible Apple products are back on EPEAT."
While Apple's attitude toward environmental concerns has greatly improved over the years, green concerns have turned the company's face red over the years. For example, skirmishing with Greenpeace during the early years of the new millennium led to the environmentalist issuing a report on hazardous chemicals lurking inside the iPhone. Apple also lagged behind other high tech firms throughout the first decade of the new century in Greenpeace's Guide to Greener Electronics.