July 11, 2012, 3:31 PM — The Wall Street Journals Joel Schectman reported last week that Apple has asked environmental organization EPEAT to remove from its product registry all of the companys 39 certified desktop computers, monitors, and laptops.
If the previous paragraph has left you scratching your head, dont worry: Youre not alone. For just such a reason, weve put together a quick rundown of the moves significance; while it may not make you an expert on all things environmental and technological, it might at least give you something to talk about at your next dinner party.
What is EPEAT?
The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) is a nonprofit organization that helps promote environmentally preferable products. Its also backed by the federal governmentin the form of the Environmental Protection Agencyand industry partners. Until recently, that latter list included Apple, who helped develop the standard.
The group gives out three levels of certificationgold, silver, and bronzebased on a mix of required and optional criteria. While all EPEAT-certified products must at least meet the required criteria, higher rankings are given to those which meet more of the optional criteria.
EPEAT focuses on the overall lifecycle of a product, using details such as the materials used in the products, how long the product will last, energy conservation, packaging, and more. The group also takes into account whether the manufacturers offer takeback and recycling of old products and support services like warranties, which extend the life of products.
Previously, much of Apples Mac line was rated EPEAT Gold, meaning that not only did the products meet EPEATs required standards, they also met at least 75% of the organizations optional standards.
Whats the big deal?
Well, EPEAT isnt simply a nonprofit environmental organization. Due to Executive Order 13423, 95% of products purchased by federal agencies have to be EPEAT certified. So, despite Apple touting its products as highly environmentally friendly, federal agencies will be restricted from buying the vast majority of their computers from Apple.
The same is true for some state, city, and municipal offices. The city of San Franciscos Department of Environment, for example, has already said that Apple products will no longer qualify for purchase by city agencies, a move backed by the city's chief information officer.