updated 09:44 pm EDT, Fri July 13, 2012
Gets same score as other MacBooks
The sudden pullout -- and subsequent return -- of Apple from the EPEAT certification program it helped create increasingly appears to have been a dispute over the status that have been given to the Retina MacBook Pro if it were submitted, as the two 15-models with the high-resolution display may have been threatened with a lower-than-top ranking, a first for the company. The Retina models now appear on the EPEAT website with Gold rankings.
The rating, which also assigns the same overall score to the Retina models as to the rest of Apple's notebook lineup, may surprise critics who complained that the models are substantially less "repairable" than other notebooks, and that the fusion of the display to the casing and the gluing of the battery make both components more difficult to recycle than in models that don't have those features. The scoring for the Retina MacBook Pro is identical in all categories to the scoring for the non-Retina 15-inch MacBook Pro.
In that scoring, Apple loses points for "Materials selection" and "Energy conservation," without any explanation of what these mean or how Apple could improve them. Apple's notebook line, unlike most of its competition, does not rely on plastic in large quantities and is made out of more-recyclable materials such as aluminum and glass.
Interestingly, even the Retina MBP gets full points for "Product longevity/life cycle extension," an acknowledgement (perhaps) that the company's use of custom batteries and the new fused display is likely (though there will still be exceptions) to decrease the likelihood of defect, which may offset the new machines' lack of easy interior repair. Various government officials and more notably the mayor of San Francisco greeting the news of Apple's return to EPEAT certification warmly, effectively killing plans by some officials to bar some Apple products from federal and state or local institutional buying.
Apple's downloadable PDF brochure for the Retina MacBook Pro's environmental ratings already includes the new EPEAT Gold certification. Apple's Senior Vice President of Hardware Bob Mansfield issued a statement apologizing for Apple's dropping of EPEAT to customers, but pointed out that the entire rest of the product line, though originally withdrawn from the organization's consideration, was still rated "Gold," and that now the Retina and refreshed MacBook line had also achieved the same rating.
In his statement, Mansfield said that withdrawing all Mac products from EPEAT had been "a mistake" but said that the company had made "never changed" its commitment to environmentally-strong products. He pointed out that Apple far surpasses both its competitors and industry standards in environmental friendliness, including exceeding the more-stringent Energy Star 5.2 ratings.
Mansfield's statement also hinted that Apple had returned to the EPEAT fold once it had won some concessions from the ranking body on improving its rating system, which is based loosely on the IEEE 1680.1 standard but has not changed in years. Mansfield implied that Apple was now working with EPEAT to bring its standards more closely in line with the full IEEE 1680.1 implementation, which could also see EPEAT expand its rankings to cover mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, devices that are not currently rated.
For its part, the EPEAT organization also issued a statement welcoming Apple back, and seemed to support Mansfield's position by saying that it "looks forward to Apple's strong and creative thoughts on ongoing standards development." The outcome of talks with Apple, EPEAT CEO Robert Frisbee wrote, "must reward new directions for both design and sustainability, simultaneously supporting the environment and the market for all manufacturers' ... high-performance products."
Frisbee appeared to acknowledge Apple's point by saying that it was "critical" that the organization support "timely standards development ... and the current refresh of the PC/Display standard."