updated 07:01 pm EDT, Sat July 7, 2012
Voluntary certification program co-founded by Apple
Apple has withdrawn all of its Mac products from EPEAT certification and will no longer be submitting items for review, according to a recent announcement by the recycling rating service. EPEAT is used by hundreds of companies, universities and government agencies in dozens of countries as an index of electronics recyclability. Despite the withdrawal of all Macs, most models still meet EPEAT standards for recyle-ability -- but the move could foreshadow some changes in design on the horizon.
Apple was amongst the founding members of EPEAT, and helped create the standards that the index grades by. A statement from the index curators indicates that EPEAT regrets Apple's withdrawal, and hopes that it will return at some point in the future. All of Apple's products since the founding of the EPEAT index have been rated as "gold," or having maximum recycle-ability.
Apple's current MacBook Pro with Retina display is the likely reason behind the change, as it doesn't adhere to EPEAT recyclability and repair standards, according to a teardown effort performed by iFixit. It's likely that future MacBook Air and non-Retina MacBook Pro models (and possible future devices) will adapt some of the design changes seen in the Retina MacBook Pro, such as having the display bonded to the outer casing (which reduces the ability of the display to be recycled, but also uses less glass and makes it thinner) and the glued-in and sealed battery (which is harder to replace but also helps lower the need for replacement).
The US government requires classes of devices on the EPEAT index have a 95 percent rate of certification, and some speculation exists that the change will hinder future federal or business purchases reliant on the (voluntary) recycling review program. However, most government purchases are for iPads and iPhones, classes of devices not on the EPEAT indices, and are thus unaffected by the redaction. MacNN spoke with procurement officials from three federal agencies with plans to purchase Mac equipment, and all three saw no reason to delay or prevent these plans from coming to fruition.
One official said his agency was "fully aware of Apple's decision to stop doing the EPEAT thing. The 95 percent [rule] exists, but is easily waived for mission-critical applications," he said. "Just about everything we need the Apple [machines] for is mission-critical. Besides, the [other current models are] EPEAT, and that's good enough for government work."