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Apple Exits "Green Hardware" Certification Program 405

Posted by timothy
from the shiny-star-sticker dept.
westlake writes "CNET reports that Apple is turning its back on the EPA supported EPEAT hardware certification program. One of the problems EPEAT sees are barriers to recycling. Batteries and screens glued into place — that sort of thing. There is a price for Apple in this: CIO Journal notes that the U.S. government requires that 95 percent of its electronics bear the EPEAT seal of approval; large companies such as Ford and Kaiser Permanente require their CIOs to buy from EPEAT-certified firms; and many of the largest universities in the U.S. prefer to buy EPEAT-friendly gear."
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Apple Exits "Green Hardware" Certification Program

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  • Re:No Surprise There (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NonUniqueNickname (1459477) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @05:59PM (#40578335)

    Profit > The Environment

    For Apple, sure. But for the iPhone-MacBook-iPad-owning-environmentalists this presents a dilemma (which I think will be hilarious to watch).

  • EPEAT = Ugly? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mal-2 (675116) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @06:02PM (#40578353) Homepage Journal

    It seems that some of the EPEAT requirements lead to bulkier designs and quite possibly extra parts needed to hold it all together. It seems inevitable that this would violate the design principles Apple has been using for the last decade-plus, at least with portable products. If there's a way to shave a millimeter or a gram here and there, Apple will find a way to do it. It's one way they achieve product differentiation from the competition. Unfortunately, doing so means gluing things together and wedging things up tight in ways that don't want to be disassembled.

    I'm a bit surprised Apple isn't outright saying "EPEAT compliance means making our products ugly, and you don't want THAT, do you?"

  • Re:EPEAT = Ugly? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 07, 2012 @06:16PM (#40578417)

    as someone who has disassembled many of apple's glued-together-displays, i can say without a doubt that there is room inside for fasteners or magnets (like those used in the iMacs). Glue is just a way to keep the cost of repair high enough that replacement SEEMS like a better option for the user when the time comes.

  • Re:No Surprise There (Score:5, Interesting)

    by busyqth (2566075) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @06:21PM (#40578451)

    Profit > The Environment

    Apple's move is driven by a design / certification dichotomy, not a profit / environment dichotomy.

    Whether a given device is EPEAT certified says absolutely nothing about whether it is actually more or less likely to be recycled or whether it is more or less a burden on the environment. All is says is that the device can be relatively easily disassembled for recycling by unskilled labor without special equipment.

    If Apple is willing to take all old devices for free environmentally responsible disposal / recycling (and I believe they are), then the EPEAT certification is of no great value to the environment in the case of Apple's devices.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 07, 2012 @06:52PM (#40578631)

    my company still won't approve any iPhones or iPads for corporate use because of the weak security features (so the IT guys say), Apple really doesn't 't give a crap about businesses and hence Blackberry stays in business....

    This sounds like bullshit since Apple has full-disk encryption + per app data encryption (with various flexibility options) + s/mime for email. Even iMessage and APNs uses TLS. So what else does an IT Department need?

  • Re:EPEAT = Ugly? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bsane (148894) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @06:55PM (#40578649)

    Meeting price points is part of engineering... shrinking the form factor a few mm each iteration is part of engineering. Apple cares about those things more than your ability to replace a battery with a screwdriver. Lets not pretend they're poorly engineered, they're engineered exceedingly well for their specs. Samsung would love to have an exact copy, I promise you.

  • Re:No Surprise There (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @07:29PM (#40578819) Homepage

    Unrepairability.

    Which may or not be a word...

    But anyway, how many non-Apple products are 'repaired'? Rather depends on your definition of repair - replacing a battery could be considered repair and certainly Apple falls short compared to some other manufacturers. However, so far, replacing an iPhone battery has not exactly been a technical challenge for all but the most mechanically declined. It remains to be seen if the newer MacBooks with the glued in battery will really challenge anyone. I suspect it wont.

    While I think Apple can be taken to task for gluing a battery in rather than putting some clips on it, it's a small issue overall. I don't think it all counts towards whether or not a device is recyclable since it isn't hard to pry the battery or display out if you aren't looking to retain function.

    And if you use a slightly more reasonable definition of 'repair' - replace a bad screen or other component - who actually does that these days? The person interested in such things is definitely an edge case (or nut case). The average consumer and the average store is going to toss a defective device and pick up a new shiny.

  • Re:No Surprise There (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tonywong (96839) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @07:53PM (#40578959) Homepage
    This will be interesting to see what Apple's official response is. You can bet every other hardware vendor is watching this move, as well as the EPEAT people. If the public doesn't change their buying in response to Apple's move, then all the other vendors may decide that EPEAT certification isn't necessary for them to sell products. And EPEAT may have to change (relax/sell out/update) their rules in order to get Apple to return to the program if they feel that Apple will be the company that makes them irrelevant.
  • Re:No Surprise There (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sqrt(2) (786011) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @07:56PM (#40578971) Journal

    I don't know about that. My MacBook Pro has lasted three years without any problems and will probably last three more. Since my computing needs are fairly simple I don't see much reason to upgrade just for better specs. I do plan on replacing the spinning drive with an SSD and maybe putting a large HDD where the optical drive currently is. So by buying a MacBook Pro instead of a "cheaper" laptop I probably saved money (and the environment) since it will have to be replaced less often. Other brands of laptops last a couple years at most. It's not unheard of for a Mac notebook to last 5+ years and still enjoy daily use by its owner. Making products that last as long as possible does more for the environment than any specific "green" manufacturing process.

    This is still an unfortunate move and I am sad that all those iPads are going to end up in landfills because the battery only holds a charge for a set number of cycles and can't be easily replaced. By the time the battery finally stops holding a charge it'll be "too old" to repair, so people will just get a new tablet. It's not just Apple that does this. Almost all the tablets on the market today are sealed boxes.

  • Re:No Surprise There (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tftp (111690) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @09:33PM (#40579337) Homepage

    If the public doesn't change their buying in response to Apple's move, then all the other vendors may decide that EPEAT certification isn't necessary for them to sell products.

    Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi.

    (link [wikipedia.org])

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 07, 2012 @10:02PM (#40579485)

    Posting as AC because I'm an Apple service tech in my day job.

    There's been internal jokes about the majority of the Retina MacBook Pro being a disposable computer. It's a very nice system and the display is gorgeous, but the way Apple constructed these machines is a bit perturbing. We can't even remove the battery pack- what iFixit reported is 100% true. The batteries are literally fused to the top of the unibody chassis, there's no magical Apple tool for prying the cells off the aluminum.

    When you pay $199 for a replacement battery, the service procedure for actually swapping out the cells is stupendously involved. Everything must be stripped from the chassis- the logic board, port boards, and display all have to be removed. What you're getting for $199 actually includes a new keyboard, trackpad, battery, and upper chassis- because it's all one unserviceable part (much in the same way that the display and iSight is considered a single P/N).

    A lot of people are wondering why they've done this- when a few screws and half a millimetre on the thickness would have allowed us to remove and swap the batteries in under 5 minutes. Heck, they could have built the batteries onto the bottom panel instead, that way battery swaps don't require removing the logic board. But they didn't.

    The only logical reason that anyone can come to is that this is simply a progression of technology. We are rapidly moving towards integrated devices that are completely unserviceable, essentially disposable, and as cram packed with technology as physically possible. Nobody has any doubt that if Apple could build everything onto a flexible circuit board adhered to the back of an LCD panel, then essentially immerse the entire thing in varying forms of resin to create a completely solid and totally sealed device- they would. Because that's where we're headed.

    The iPad 2 and iPad 3 have already taken the first steps towards this. They are sealed, we have no service procedures for doing anything to the devices. If it breaks or is defective, the customer gets a new one.

    Apple would just love to have all their hardware like this, because then us Apple techs become irrelevant and redundant. Any old monkey can plug a device into an automated suite of software testing tools and wait for the big green "PASSED" or red "FAIL" text, then take the appropriate direction to replace that hardware. All you need then is a system to handle defective hardware and make it go away- who cares about repairing it, the device is busted and it can't even be repaired anyways.

    -AC

  • Re:No Surprise There (Score:3, Interesting)

    by arth1 (260657) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @10:31PM (#40579633) Homepage Journal

    Do you mean the environmentalists who promote clean air but smoke cigarettes?

    I'm not a smoker, but cigarettes are carbon neutral. The tobacco plants pull the CO2 from the atmosphere, and what's used for producing filters and packaging is more than offset by the majority of the plants not being burnt at all.

    Brewing a cup of white tea (or whatever is in these days) probably pollutes the atmosphere more than packs of cigarettes.

  • Re:No Surprise There (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Miseph (979059) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @10:47PM (#40579697) Journal

    I have a friend who founded a computer sales and service company with precisely that goal. It's still fairly small and operates in a local market, but he started with very little working capital beyond his vehicle and personal know-how in a market already well-saturated by established competitors (including two Geek Squad dispatches).

    So yes, there are at least some people out there who make environmental considerations (including power use and heat generation) with regard to their computer equipment.

  • Re:No Surprise There (Score:4, Interesting)

    by davesag (140186) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @12:47AM (#40580213) Homepage

    You are of course ignoring the myriad of industrial processes involved in growing tobacco (fossil fuels being burned for transport, fossil fuel based fertilisers, etc) and the manufacture of cigarettes; not to mention the industrial scale energy use involved in the healthcare required to keep smokers alive. The parts of the plant that are not burned typically rot and release methane which is 24 times more potent a greenhouse gas than is CO2. Also it's wrong to assume that the burning of a cigarette releases pure CO2, it does not. Cigarettes don't burn very efficiently and the papers themselves are ingrained with gunpowder to assist the burning process. That releases all manner of GHGs, beyond the CO2 originally absorbed by the plant.

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. -- John Muir

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