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San Francisco To Stop Buying Apple Computers 392

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-not-easy-being-green dept.
New submitter djnanite writes "Following on from the story that Apple has exited the 'Green Hardware' certification program, the BBC reports that City officials in San Francisco plan to block local government agencies from buying new Apple's Macintosh computers. Will they be the first of many, or will cheaper products override people's conscience? 'Other CIOs in government and educational institutions, where Apple has a strong presence, could find themselves asked to drop MacBooks and iMacs. The federal government, for example, requires 95% of its laptops and desktops be EPEAT-certified.' Apple defended the move by saying their products are environmentally superior in areas not measured by EPEAT."
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San Francisco To Stop Buying Apple Computers

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  • False Dillema (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @02:26AM (#40611463)

    "Will they be the first of many, or will cheaper products override people's conscience?"

    Considering Apple computers are more expensive than certified non-Apple computers; I think it is safe to say whether you are environmentally conscious or a bean counter the choice is definitely not new apple products.

  • Re:conscience? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jailbrekr (73837) <jailbrekr@digitaladdiction.net> on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @02:35AM (#40611509) Homepage

    If you cannot disassemble them to separate the components, then they are not recyclable. Thats the big issue here: Apple is now making their products so it is impossible to taking it apart by gluing dissimilar components together.

  • by Freaky Spook (811861) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @02:36AM (#40611515)

    As more government and private organisations move to BYOD, where there is less control over these purchasing decisions I wonder if BYOD policies will also be updated to exclude employee's using devices that aren't adhering to EPEAT, I doubt it.

    When I first heard this decision I just wondered if Apple were again abandoning the Enterprise market, because they can just attack the consumer market, which is now well and truly making inroads into Enterprise IT.

  • Re:conscience? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @02:38AM (#40611521)

    San Francisco can do whatever they want, but I sure don't feel any pain of conscience over EPEAT. Apple products are recyclable.

    Do you even know anything about this? Do you now what EPEAT is and why Apple is no longer certified? It's because binding the batteries to the aluminium means you can't recycle them! How much more of an apologist could you be?!

  • Re:conscience? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rakshasa-sensei (533725) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @02:47AM (#40611567) Homepage
    If it is impossible to take apart the retina MBP, how are they able to offer battery replacement service?

    I guess they use magic or something, and recyclers are normal people so they are unable to tear apart the new MBP's.
  • Re:False Dillema (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sir_Sri (199544) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @02:51AM (#40611581)

    And if you have to do thousands of repairs* because you have tens of thousands of computers the cost of repairs is very much a big deal.

    *that isn't a criticism of apple, stuff breaks, usually due to stupid end users, but if you have enough computers a lot of things will break over the lifetime. That's what keeps half of the /. crowd employed.

  • Yes... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @02:56AM (#40611607)
    Disclaimer: I don't live there (and my relatives who did have moved).

    San Francisco does today what the more advanced parts of the developed world will do tomorrow. It is enormously influential. Its geography is a roll call of large parts of the US computer industry. The first development system I ever used came from Marin County, the second operating system from a place called Berkeley, and much of what has followed has come from Cupertino or Palo Alto. And a slap from the City Council for the largest corporation in the area will play well with the residents.

  • Re:conscience? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wierd_w (1375923) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @03:02AM (#40611637)

    The deal with the glue is that it makes the recycling effort cost prohibitive, and removes the already small margin for fiscal incentive for said recycling. The glued features cannot be easily seperated, increasing the cost to recycle above a critical metric.

    Apple says it won't stop this practice, because finding an alternative means they would have to make thicker devices, or devices more likely to come apart on their own.

    The consequence of this decision is that they are no longer EPEAT certified, and now their products are less salable.

    What is so hard to comprehend here?

  • Re:False Dillema (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gl4ss (559668) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @03:12AM (#40611683) Homepage Journal

    and has there been a study if it's cheaper with apple or not? apple repairs can be darn expensive, unless you plan on using the applecare insurance card - in which case you should compare it with buying insurance with the non-apple pc too.

  • Re:False Dillema (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hentes (2461350) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @03:16AM (#40611703)

    A non-Apple computer with a warranty is still cheaper than an Apple.

  • Outrageous (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @03:35AM (#40611775)

    I'm amazed they were buying Apple computers in the first place. Do San Francisco's taxpayers know that their local government is willing to spend twice what they need to on a computer just so they can have one that looks pretty?

  • Re:False Dillema (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @05:18AM (#40612177)

    and has there been a study if it's cheaper with apple or not? apple repairs can be darn expensive, unless you plan on using the applecare insurance card - in which case you should compare it with buying insurance with the non-apple pc too.

    Who buys a computer without a warranty that covers it's expected usage period? In most European countries computer vendors are required by law to offer at least a two year warranty, some offer more than required as a sales incentive. I usually sell my laptops no more than a year after the legally required warranty expires. The bargain hunters who buy them know the risks they are taking, laptop and tablet repairs are always expensive to the point of being uneconomial. But even if the warranty has expired computer repairs are covered by most decent household insurance policies. My insurance replaced a broken iPod and a defective display on an out-of-warranty MacBook. If you skimped on household insurance as well as buying a computer that isn't covered by a warranty you are up a creek without a paddle when your device breaks down.

  • Re:False Dillema (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kergan (780543) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @06:21AM (#40612451)

    Who buys a computer without a warranty that covers its expected usage period? (...) If you skimped on household insurance as well as buying a computer that isn't covered by a warranty you are up a creek without a paddle when your device breaks down.

    Yeah... What was I thinking? I've neither, and I had to shell out €125 the other day because I broke my MacBook's top case while opening it. Surely, had I not refused to cough an extra €200 or so to extend my warrantee period by two years when I bought my Mac in 2007, they wouldn't have told me that the warranty period is long ended and doesn't cover me opening my laptop to clean it.

    Fwiw, the math is not in your favor... It is never in your interest to extend a warranty. If a PC/car/whatever maker offers you an extended warranty, you're on the receiving end of an overwhelmingly losing bet. The extended period being offered is, as a rule, the one they know carries about zero risk. When it might, they compensate by overcharging for out-of-warranty extras. And all too typically, they'll wiggle out of their obligations much like insurance companies do when you thought you were covered. If you add up the various costs that you save by not extending warranty periods, you're more than enough to cover the occasional repair, and you get to put the leftovers on a savings account.

  • Re:False Dillema (Score:4, Insightful)

    by flyneye (84093) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @06:54AM (#40612603) Homepage

    * Who buys a computer without a warranty that covers it's expected usage period? *

    This is /. , if anyone accidentally got a warranty, it was voided by tinkering soon thereafter. If something breaks, WE are the people who fix and usually improve it over the original design.

  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @07:04AM (#40612659)

    ...in any practical sense. You're correct that these design choices have consequences, but your interpretation, which appears to be that Apple products are actually less green because of it, is completely false.

    The EPEAT requirements are dated, and Apple provides comprehensive recycling for all of its products, making the ability to disassemble them moot — do you really believe individuals, businesses, or government agencies are disassembling Apple — or any other — products themselves for recycling? Those parts of the EPEAT guidelines are designed that way so that all manufacturers' products are broadly recyclable.

    BUT APPLE HAS A FREE RECYCLING PROGRAM FOR ALL OF ITS PRODUCTS, not to mention leads the industry in the amount of recyclable materials in its products. In other words, even without EPEAT, Apple is still better than other manufacturers on the environment front [apple.com]. Now, it's understandable that government and institutional customers would look to such a standard, because it makes things easier and has many other benefits — but Apple not being a part of EPEAT doesn't mean Apple is "less green" in a real sense.

    For what it's worth, this is Apple's response [loopinsight.com].

  • Re:conscience? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by crmarvin42 (652893) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:20AM (#40613065)
    Since Apple will recycle your Apple machine for free, I fail to see how the economics of it are really relevant. They will even pay YOU for your machine, depending on just how old it is.

    www.apple.com/recycling
  • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @09:37AM (#40613923)

    The beginning of the end for Apple

    If they start pissing off arrogant, self-important hippies and douchebags, there goes their core market. By the way:

    Other CIOs in government and educational institutions, where Apple has a strong presence, could find themselves asked to drop MacBooks and iMacs.

    Except ones that are already made are EPEAT certified so that would make no logical sense. But hey, take them away anyway and let them use a real computer. Macs are WAY the hell too expensive to be used by the government. I've heard of California's government waste and excessive spending but Apple products in the government is a new low for them.

  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @10:01AM (#40614215)

    The point is that EPEAT alone isn't the end-all, be-all of green certifications. Organizations use EPEAT because it is a metric; a box that is easy to check; an easy way to define the "greenness" of a product. Apple helped develop the EPEAT standard, and has been one of the most committed and transparent manufacturers to green tech, environment, and recycling.

    Apple pulled all of its products — even all of them that are certified — because EPEAT isn't consistent with Apple's design directions. Apple explicitly told EPEAT this. EPEAT requires that the products be able to be completely disassembled with normal tools for recycling. The Retina MacBook Pros do not meet this.

    But Apple will completely recycle the laptops itself (other manufacturers do not do this), and even contracts with a zero-landfill recycler [srsapp.com] to recycle ANY brand of equipment for free.

    If you can't understand that Apple might exceed EPEAT in real, practical terms, including more than other certified manufacturers, then you're unlikely to understand Apple's motivations for departing EPEAT because the EPEAT standard simply doesn't reflect in real terms what Apple does to be "green". What if someone meets EPEAT for disassembly and percentage of recyclable parts, but it's a lot lower percentage than Apple? In what world does that make the lesser product "more green"?

  • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thesandtiger (819476) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @11:01AM (#40614881)

    Can you be a bit more specific about the stupid moves they started doing after Jobs? They were already suing everyone when Jobs was there, so that doesn't count.

    More than that, Jobs wasn't a designer, wasn't a serious programmer, wasn't a serious engineer, wasn't any of the things that went into making products that were as successful as Apple's have been. The guy was deeply involved at every level, yes, but to say the company was 100% Jobs is just stupid and it completely dismisses the accomplishments of some extremely talented people.

    What indication do you have that Cook is the way you say? The "environmental" move is only going to hurt them with institutional buyers who have vendor requirements, but the vast majority of Apple's revenue comes from individuals, and given that when Apple was routinely being accused of engaging in basically slavery in order to make products in China they still sold record numbers of everything, it's pretty clear to me that individual consumers aren't going to stop just because Apple might not bother with certain certifications.

    I'm open to real examples, but just your saying "they suck now" isn't sufficient support to make that argument.

    To me, the beginning of the end (or of the end of this phase of Apple) would be if they went back to the old ways of less than attractive design, way too many different models with confusing and dumb options.

  • Re:Ohhh shiny (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nahdude812 (88157) * on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @11:41AM (#40615337) Homepage

    I'm sure that's true to some extent, but it's 1) better than no environmental certification at all, and 2) Apple pulled out because they now glue their batteries to the chassis, thus making the batteries and chassis non-recyclable. It strikes me that being able to recycle batteries reduces a lot of chemical waste, and being able to recycle aluminum is one of the very best ROI's of any form of recycling (the energy required to refine aluminum from bauxite ore is orders of magnitude more than is required to smelt and refine previously refined aluminum)

  • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Targon (17348) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @12:07PM (#40615685)

    There are many who hate the idea of form over function, and people also hate people claiming that they invented something that was already around before they made their claim. Apple only takes ideas that others have come up with and then put them in a pretty package, but that does not mean they invented the idea. This is why Apple needs to be taken down a few pegs as far as the public perception, because they are NOT being terribly innovative. Being the first to jump on a new technology that another company has invented also does not make them innovative.

    True innovation tends to come from those who actually develop new technologies, including but not limited to Intel, AMD, Microsoft, and many others. Notice that MacOS is still on version 10, and no small addition of features over the years will change that, iOS has not really changed much in terms of the UI, and any CHANGE has been fairly minor. Yea, innovation, it means trying something new, and it doesn't always pan out. Stagnation is when people or companies are stuck doing things the same way because people are afraid of change.

  • Re:False Dillema (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ilsaloving (1534307) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @12:26PM (#40615941)

    I feel I should point out one big difference with Apple support. They actually give it to you on a silver platter.

    I spent most of my life thinking the usual negative things about apple (proprietary crap, only stupid people use them, etc). Then I hit a stretch of bad luck and took a job doing Apple technical support because I needed money.

    After doing that for about a year and a bit, I'm now an Apple convert. Even after we had to stop taking the mind-control drugs (j/k) I discovered that Apple really puts a lot of pressure on the staff to give customers the best possible experience. I discovered that OS X gives me almost the full commercial power of Windows (being able to use most major applications) while also giving me the flexibility and command line power of linux/unix.

    Furthermore, I found that for the most part stuff really does just work. To the point where when something does screw up (because no system is flawless and never will be), I flip out because it's so unexpected. My experience with OS X has been indescribably better than it ever was with Windows. Suspend/Resume is no longer a crap shoot. I feel like the OS is getting out of my way so I can get things done. This requires less training and less maintenance.

    So Apple gives you a product that is of overall better quality than most of the crap on the PC market, and offers a top notch support system that feels like it's run by engineers instead of bean counters.

    Apple may generally be more expensive than the comparative PC, but only if your own stress levels and piece of mind have no value at all.

  • by Aighearach (97333) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @01:15PM (#40616701) Homepage

    A lot of people, myself included, obviously disagree.

    Apple having their own "recycling program" doesn't solve the problem. The requirement isn't for a buy-back program, or for a company to have a disposal program with the word "recycle" in it, the requirement is to meet actual real life physical standards that recycling companies have. Those companies have worked with the government already to come up with the EPEAT standard.

    And you miss the point. We actually care about recycling, that is why we support these types of standards. Just because the glue gets in the way by the time the recycled goods have worked their way downstream into the care of foreign companies, doesn't make a bit of difference. We want it to, in the end, eventually be disassembled and recycled.

    There is also some trickery when you claim Apple "leads the industry in the amount of recyclable materials in its products." Yes it is true that they have lots of materials listed as recyclable, but that is what this is about; once you glue them together, they are no longer recyclable... and yet Apple still lists them because the material itself is still categorized as recyclable, even if the part made from it no longer is.

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