Last week, we noted that Apple had pulled its 39 EPEAT-eligible products from the organization over design differences. Apple’s Macs, while hella-“green” and recyclable, aren’t built to the EPEAT standard. Specifically, Apple’s new Retina MacBook Pro can’t be disassembled as easily as its EPEAT rated predecessors for recycling. Since making the move, Apple has been criticized, specifically from those who believe that EPEAT-certification is important to environmental consciousness. That, and Government and Educational institutions that are tied to EPEAT can’t buy Macs anymore.

Following that criticism, just two days ago, Apple responded by saying that its move does not affect the enviromental friendliness of its products:

Apple takes a comprehensive approach to measuring our environmental impact and all of our products meet the strictest energy efficiency standards backed by the US government, Energy Star 5.2. We also lead the industry by reporting each product’s greenhouse gas emissions on our website, and Apple products are superior in other important environmental areas not measured by EPEAT, such as removal of toxic materials.

Today however, Apple, in a surprising move, has reversed course and announced that it is placing all of its elgible products [Read: not Retina MBP] back into an EPEAT-certifiied position. Soon to be retiring Apple’s Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering, Bob Mansfield, has complemented the announcement with a letter:

  • We’ve recently heard from many loyal [largest?] 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.
  • It’s important to know that our commitment to protecting the environment has never changed, and today it is as strong as ever. Apple makes the most environmentally responsible products in our industry. In fact, our engineering teams have worked incredibly hard over the years to make our products even more environmentally friendly, and much of our progress has come in areas not yet measured by EPEAT.
  • For example, Apple led the industry in removing harmful toxins such as brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). We are the only company to comprehensively report greenhouse gas emissions for every product we make, taking into account the entire product lifecycle. And we’ve removed plastics wherever possible, in favor of materials that are more highly recyclable, more durable, more efficient and longer lasting.
  • Perhaps most importantly, we make the most energy-efficient computers in the world and our entire product line exceeds the stringent ENERGY STAR 5.2 government standard. No one else in our industry can make that claim.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bob

Mansfield’s mea culpa shows that Apple has realized that they have disappointed some customers and likely tied others’ hand in purchasing Macs. While Apple removed EPEAT-certification, Mansfield reiterates that the environment is always in Apple’s best interest, and that will never change no matter the certification or organization that Apple is a part of. “And we’ve removed plastics wherever possible, in favor of materials that are more highly recyclable, more durable, more efficient and longer lasting,” Mansfield also – notably – remarked.

Mansfield ends by saying that this situation has made Apple and EPEAT’s relationship stronger, and that “Apple  is dedicated to designing products that everyone can be proud to own and use.”

Earlier this year, Apple announced that Mansfield will soon retire. He will be succeeded by current Apple VP of iPad Dan Riccio.

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