San Francisco to Block Most Municipal Mac Purchases Following Apple's EPEAT Withdrawal

Following last week's news that Apple had pulled all 39 of its qualifying Macs from the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) registry, it was suggested that Apple would lose business with federal, state, and local governments in the United States. Many agencies require that most or all computer purchases be limited to products listed on the EPEAT registry.

As noted by The Wall Street Journal's CIO Journal, the city of San Francisco has become one of the first such entities to confirm that it will be barring most purchases of Apple computers.

Officials with the San Francisco Department of Environment told CIO Journal on Monday they would send out letters over the next two weeks,informing all 50 of the city’s agencies that Apple laptops and desktops “will no longer qualify” for purchase with city funds. [...]

“We are disappointed that Apple chose to withdraw from EPEAT,” said Melanie Nutter, director of San Francisco’s Department of Environment, “and we hope that the city saying it will not buy Apple products will make Apple reconsider its participation.”

City agencies will still be able to ask for waivers of the policy, but San Francisco’s chief information officer Jon Walton calls that process a "long" and "onerous" one that will make it "very problematic to procure Apple products."

The report notes that the impact of San Francisco's decision on Apple's bottom line will be negligible given that only about 1-2% of the city's computers are Macs, representing 500-700 machines. The most recent city data available from 2010 listed purchases totaling roughly $45,000 in Macs and iPads, and iPad purchases would continue to be allowed given the absence of any EPEAT registry for tablets.

Still, with many other governmental agencies potentially making similar purchasing decisions related to Apple's withdrawal from the EPEAT registry and a possible filtering-down effect that could see other businesses adopting similar stances, Apple could face challenges in increasing its share of the PC market among enterprise and government clients.

Top Rated Comments

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105 months ago
EPEAT, Carbon credits, same bull poop.

If you want to help the environment, pollute less. Carbon credit are like the modern equivalent of indulgences that were sold by the catholic church. Planting trees is a good thing to curb deforestation but don't think of it as a way of covering your environmental "sins".

EPEAT is just another meaningless certification with arbitrary conditions. What they should really look at is what the actual recyclability of a product is, its lifespan and the presence or lack thereof of harmful materials.

What good does it do if something meets EPEAT but becomes e-waste within a year or two? You can only recycle so much and the rest ends up as e-waste in some third world country.

Actual recyclability and reusability should count for more than ease of recycling.

I would rather see a city buy products that last longer than are easily disposable. As long as Apple has a recycling program in place, I don't see the issue here.
Score: 53 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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105 months ago

Good luck to the IT staff... they will need it. Switching to a completely different hardware and software platform will be painful.


Didn't you read that only 1-2% of SF computers are Apple, your comment makes no sense
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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105 months ago
Well, for most Office work, Windows PCs still fare well enough at much lower prices than Macs (yeah, I'm a Mac enthusiast but also a taxpayer). So I don't mind governmental agencies not buying Macs.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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105 months ago
Given how sensitive a topic the environment is nowadays, Apple no doubt has valid reasons, but withdrawing support for EPEAT without some type of public PR answer is only going to lead to the story quickly developing a negative spin. If they don't like EPEAT because it limits design flexibility, but they remain committed to the environment, they could try to demonstrate that their products offer comparable or better environmental benefits to the EPEAT program even if they don't follow the EPEAT standards by the letter.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
105 months ago

This just sounds like sour grapes on San Francisco's side. You have a small panel of people who feel like some kind of power has been taken away from them. Reminds me of my local city council.


Sour grapes? They have some rules they have to follow. If a product doesn't qualify them they can't be bought.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
105 months ago
Actually Apple could use this for marketing

San Fran won't buy our gear.

This would make them more popular in 40+ states....
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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