EPEAT Defends Verification of Ultrathin Notebooks for Environmental Registry

epeatEarlier this week, we noted that Apple's Retina MacBook Pro and newest MacBook Air models had been among a number of ultrathin notebooks whose eligibility for inclusion on the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) registry had been verified. The approval came with some clarifications of the EPEAT standards that were criticized by some, including iFixit's Kyle Wiens, as watering down the requirements for inclusion.

EPEAT has now posted a defense of its actions, noting that its review committee was simply following the guidelines as they are written. The group acknowledges some of the concerns, but notes that those issues should be raised in the forthcoming update to the standards and not as criticism of the application of the standards as they are currently written.

Regarding upgrade capability, the criteria specifically state that products may be upgraded or extended “by a high performance serial bus (IEEE Std 1394™ [B4]) or Universal Serial Bus (USB)”. Regardless of opinions about whether or not that is appropriate or acceptable language, the hard fact is that EPEAT has no authority to ‘flunk’ products if they meet the explicit terms of the standard.

Regarding disassembly: The criteria under discussion are located in the section of the standard that addresses Design for End of Life – that is, design for effective recycling. The criteria investigated are not in any way aimed at refurbishment or repair. Again, people may think that there should be more in the standard about disassembly for repair and refurbishment – and we welcome their views – but these criteria do not apply to that topic.

The group goes on to note that EPEAT standards are developed through an open process that involves stakeholders from a number of sides, although Wiens had previously noted that the voting group for the last standards update was heavily weighted toward computer industry companies. EPEAT also notes that at the time of the registry's implementation, no products qualified for the Gold standard, indicating that the registry's overall purpose in defining reachable goals has been a success.

The EPEAT system was structured to encourage continual improvement by providing progressive ratings and by regularly updating the environmental performance criteria products must meet. It took a year for any products to meet the Gold rating requirements after the registry launched, because it was extremely challenging to do so. Over time, the EPEAT PC/Display criteria have become more familiar and companies have designed them into their products and supply chain requirements. That’s a good thing. In fact the whole point of the EPEAT system is to drive change… Our goal is to create a new bottom line for environmental innovation that affects the whole global industry for the better.

EPEAT is moving forward with its next update to its PC/Display standards, hoping draw upon recently-updated standards for imaging equipment and televisions in certain aspects. Consequently, it seems that the time for those interested in tightening the criteria for such aspects as upgradeability and recyclability and to add criteria for repairability is approaching.

Top Rated Comments

samcraig Avatar
111 months ago
What exactly does EPEAT do?

Is this more of a marketing thing to make us consumers feel better about buying laptops, computers, phone etc that will eventually end up on another countries landfills?

Have you been to their site to find out?

While there's a PR aspect to it all (what rating system doesn't?) - there are companies and/or government entities which require certain standards (IE - they must be epeat "gold" in order to be purchased)

So being on or off the list can affect one's business - it's not just warm fuzzies

----------

Who the hell cares...

LOL - I love posts like this. You clicked in, read and then posted. You must care. Even a little. Well played.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ouimetnick Avatar
111 months ago
iFixit is just pissed that they won't make as much money anymore. With repairability gone downhill, they won't be able to sell you tools and parts. That said, usually when repairability goes down, reliability does go up.


Remember when we discovered that you can't even replace the battery in the Retina MacBook Pro?

We were hopeful that the green standards folks would do something about it. Now, they've caved in to Apple.

There was a flurry this summer when Apple announced that they would be leaving EPEAT soon after releasing the unfixable Retina MacBook Pro—then, two weeks later, apologized and resubmitted all their products to the registry. Since July, the EPEAT product verification committee has been busy making their decision. Now, the results are in.

The Retina MacBook Pro—the least repairable, least recyclable computer I have encountered in more than a decade of disassembling electronics—was just verified EPEAT "Gold." This decision demonstrates that the EPEAT standard has been watered down to an alarming degree: proprietary, Apple-invented Pentalobe screwdrivers are now considered "commonly available tools" and a USB thumb drive is an "upgrade."

If the glued-together Retina MacBook Pro meets EPEAT, what computer would not? If other manufacturers follow in Apple's footsteps, it will lead humanity down a perilous path. Environmental standards should promote recyclability and upgradeability! So let's flood EPEAT with stories of our successful computer upgrades. Rather than complaining and moaning, tell EPEAT about all the awesome upgrades you've done to your computers. How much longer have you been able to keep your hardware running?

Share how important upgradeability is to you. Email EPEAT CEO Bob Frisbee or tweet at EPEAT.

I wrote more about the situation in an article for Wired.

Cheers,

Kyle Wiens
iFixit cofounder
@kwiens
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
discuit Avatar
111 months ago
Why all the hate on iFixIt? They provide a valuable service, IMO. Once my stuff is out of warranty, it is much much cheaper to fix stuff myself using their tools and guides than pay an Apple authorized repair center.

Most normal people can't afford a brand new $2000 laptop when the warranty is expired and something broke or they want to upgrade RAM or HDD.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mdelvecchio Avatar
111 months ago
Well yes - as now just illustrated. Since EPEAT is willing to move goalposts due to pressure from their new BFF (and other computer manufacturers) - the value is diminished.

the goalposts havent "moved", son, since theyre the exact sam written spec as yesterday. only thing has changed is youre now aware of what they actually say.

that is, that theyre concerned w/ proper disassembly & recycling at End of Life; not third-party repair yahoos.

doh.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iAco Avatar
111 months ago
No one cares. We just want shiny toys.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
KdParker Avatar
111 months ago
What exactly does EPEAT do?

Is this more of a marketing thing to make us consumers feel better about buying laptops, computers, phone etc that will eventually end up on another countries landfills?
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

siir apple event april 20

Siri Reveals Apple Event Planned for Tuesday, April 20

Tuesday April 13, 2021 12:04 am PDT by
Siri has apparently prematurely revealed that Apple plans to hold an event on Tuesday, April 20, where the company is expected to reveal brand new iPad Pro models and possibly its long-awaited AirTags trackers. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Upon being asked "When is the next Apple Event," Siri is currently responding with, "The special event is on Tuesday, April...
apple event spring loaded

Apple's 'Spring Loaded' Event Officially Announced for Tuesday, April 20

Tuesday April 13, 2021 9:04 am PDT by
Following an overnight leak by Siri, Apple today officially announced that it will be holding a special "Spring Loaded" event on Tuesday, April 20 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. As with all of Apple's 2020 events, the April 2021 event will be a digital-only gathering with no members of the media invited to attend in...
Google maps feaure green

Google Maps App for iOS Finally Updated After Four Months

Monday April 12, 2021 10:03 am PDT by
Following the completed rollout of App Privacy labels for its App Store apps, Google today updated the Google Maps app for the first time in four months. Apple in December began requiring all new app submissions and app updates to include App Privacy labels, detailing the data that is collected by the app so consumers know what they're sharing. Google didn't begin implementing App Privacy ...
pixel watch prosser leak

Google Pixel Watch Allegedly Leaks with Circular Design, Rumored to Launch in October

Monday April 12, 2021 2:49 am PDT by
Renders of Google's first smartwatch, codenamed "Rohan," have been shared by Jon Prosser, showing that Google plans to adopt a circular design for its flagship wearable watch. Prosser shared the renders in an episode of his YouTube show "Front Page Tech," in which he claims they were made based on marketing material he had seen from a source within Google. The renders show that the Pixel...
apple event hashflag

Twitter Hashflag for April 20 Apple Event Goes Live

Tuesday April 13, 2021 2:21 pm PDT by
Following the overnight Siri leak and subsequent announcement that Apple will hold a media event on Tuesday, April 20, a new Twitter hashflag has appeared to help provide visibility for the event on the platform. For the last several recent events, Apple has utilized hashflags, which are little icons next to hashtags on Twitter, as a way to market its events. The company first started the...
macos catalina serial number

Apple Preparing Rollout of New Randomized Product Serial Numbers Ahead of 'Spring Loaded' Event

Wednesday April 14, 2021 2:08 am PDT by
Apple is advising its authorized premium resellers and dealers to prepare for new products with 10 and 12 digital serial numbers, days ahead of when it's expected to reveal a slew of new products. MacRumors previously reported that Apple plans to switch to randomized serial numbers for future products starting in early 2021. The company now seems to be preparing for that roll-out, telling...
iphone12cameras

Kuo: 2022 iPhones to Feature 48-Megapixel Camera, 8K Video, and 6.1 and 6.7" Sizes With No 5.4" Mini Option

Tuesday April 13, 2021 10:45 pm PDT by
The upcoming 2022 iPhone lineup will feature two 6.1-inch devices and two 6.7-inch devices, with no mini-sized 5.4-inch iPhone, well-respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a note to investors that was seen by MacRumors. Two of the iPhones will be high-end models and two of the iPhones will be lower-end models, similar to the current iPhone 12 lineup. Apple introduced the 5.4-inch...
AppleTV and HomePod Feature

Bloomberg: Apple Working on New Apple TV With Integrated HomePod Speaker and FaceTime Camera

Monday April 12, 2021 3:32 am PDT by
Apple is working on a combined Apple TV with HomePod speaker that has a camera for video calls through a connected television set, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. From the report: The company is working on a product that would combine an Apple TV set-top box with a HomePod speaker and include a camera for video conferencing through a connected TV and other smart-home functions,...
epic iap feature 3

Tim Cook Says App Store Would Become a 'Flea Market' if Third-Party Payment Systems Were Allowed

Monday April 12, 2021 9:41 am PDT by
In a recent interview with the Toronto Star, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke about a wide variety of topics, ranging from App Tracking Transparency to Apple's ongoing legal battle over App Store policies with Fortnite creator Epic Games. Notably, Cook said that Epic Games' desire for Apple to let developers offer their own payment systems in apps "would make the App Store a flea market":At the...
tim cook toronto star

Tim Cook Says Apple is 'Not Against Digital Advertising' Ahead of iOS 14.5 Launch With App Tracking Transparency

Monday April 12, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
Starting with iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and tvOS 14.5, Apple will be requiring apps to receive a user's permission to track their activity for targeted advertising purposes, as part of a privacy measure known as App Tracking Transparency. Ahead of App Tracking Transparency being enforced, Apple CEO Tim Cook has participated in a privacy-focused interview with the Toronto Star, telling the...