Apple Will Flunk EPEAT Tests, Predicts Recycling Group

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Apple’s green label will get peeled off, predicts recycler

Although Apple has returned its products to the EPEAT green electronics register, an environmental group claims they will have their certification removed because its machines are so difficult to recycle.

Apple rejoined the environmental rating scheme this week, after an earlier decision to take its products off the EPEAT list  prompted widespread complaints, and claimed a Gold certificate for its new MacBook Pro . However, the  certificates are based on Apple’s assertions and will be withdrawn when EPEAT reviews the application, according to US recycling body the Electronics Takeback Coalition (ETC).

EPEAT repeat performance

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The new MacBooks, launched last month, include a retina display but also have  batteries which are glued into place. Teardown site iFixit claimed this cannot be removed easily, meaning the laptops break the requirement in the EPEAT standards that products should be easy to disassemble for recycling purposes.

“We seriously doubt that these MacBooks should qualify for EPEAT at any level because we think they flunk two required criteria in the ‘Design for End of Life’ section of the standard,” said ETC’s Barbara Kyle.

EPEAT bases its register on the IEEE 1680.1 recycling standard, which demands that the enclosures of computers should be “easily removable by one person alone with commonly available tools” (Criterion 4.3.1.3), and that components containing hazardous materials, such as batteries and circuit boards, should also be “easily removable”  (4.3.1.5).  The IEEE standard is not available for free, but EPEAT publishes a summary of it,

All products are allowed to carry the EPEAT label, which can be removed if tests find it does not meet the standard. Apple’s new MacBook is therefore in the register on Apple’s say so, until its status is checked by EPEAT.

Apple would not comment – although sources pointed out that listing the new MacBook implied a high level of certainty within Apple that it will pass.

Yet ETC is convinced EPEAT will fail the iPhone maker. “We are sending them a letter this week with a formal challenge to the EPEAT gold designation for the MacBook Pro/retina, asking them to show on the registery that this classification has been challenged,” Kyle told TechWeekEurope. 

“We are working quickly on this,” added Sarah O’Brien, EPEAT ‘s director of communicationsShe was unable to give any date when the MacBook’s entry would be reviewed, saying that there is a due process to be worked through in these cases.

ETC argues that EPEAT should not include products which have been self-certified without making this clear to users. “We understand that a review will be forthcoming, but they’ve given no timeframe” said Kyle. “In the meantime, people don’t understand that something on the EPEAT registry is unverified. They should indicate ‘verified’ or ‘unverified’ so people can know which listings to trust.”

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