In a new 45 page report by Mark Schaffer of Repair.org, Apple, Sony, and other tech industry companies have been targeted as the reason behind lagging green electronics standards in the United States, which are meant to establish an overall set of environmental leadership specifications for the design, usage, and end-of-life phases of electronic devices.

According to Repair.org, Apple and companies like it consistently output products with extremely low repairability scores, and often fail to meet quality green electronics standards.

apple environment
The report said that this is mostly because these tech companies "hold so many positions" on the boards of green electronics standards that they can vote and resist changes they see as potentially unfavorable for their product development. This has caused the standards to become "increasingly ineffectual," making them hard to update and unable to keep up with the fast-paced advancements in the technology that they are written for.

“Green standards in the US play an important role. They are supposed to shape the electronics industry for the better and encourage manufacturers to make more sustainable products. As consumers, we should be able to trust them to identify only the most sustainable products,” says Gay Gordon-Byrne, Executive Director of Repair.org. “Instead, members of the IT industry have co-opted standards for their own benefit, warping them into a tool that drives sales at the expense of the environment. This is patently unacceptable, and it needs to change.”

Manufacturers including Apple, Blackberry, and Sony have consistently blocked meaningful criteria that would influence their product design, including strong incentives to encourage design for repair or recycling.

In the report, Repair.org looks at the repair/reuse criteria included in the UL 110 standard for cell phones, which was approved in early 2017 and "contains some repair criteria and optional requirements for battery removability without tools." Apple and Samsung were able to claim the highest "gold" ratings for the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S8 right off the bat when the standard went live in July, which the report called "troubling." Repair.org explained that a "properly developed" standard should see newly claimed devices barely able to achieve a lower "bronze" rating, and have to work their way up the standard.

Under a section called "manufacturers oppose leadership standards," the report delves more into Apple's refusal to comply with the support of standardized tools that could be used to disassemble their products. Despite Apple's voting against such a rule, it's said that enough companies decided to vote in favor of this section of UL 110.

The only effective, repair-focused language in UL 110 is an optional criterion that awards manufacturers extra points for batteries that can be removed without the use of tools. It is the only repair-related criterion in the UL 110 standard that incentivizes a different design. Still, one manufacturer steadfastly opposed this proposal and refused to vote for its inclusion in the standard: Apple. Ultimately, this was one of the few instances in which manufacturers broke ranks. Enough device-makers voted to have the optional criterion included in the recently published version of the standard.

Still, the UL 110 standard's various sections -- including end-of-life, reuse, and recycle -- are described as "watered down" and "neutered" to the point that device makers don't have to alter the course of EOL practices that they've been following in previous years. The report then lists a few common arguments manufacturers have given for their actions, including public safety concerns if at-home repair was widely supported, easily accessible authorized repair centers, and more, all of which Repair.org refutes.

Apple has long been a proponent of environmental protection and action in its position as one of the biggest device makers on the planet. This past April, the company released its 2017 Environmental Responsibility Report and announced its goal to set up a "closed-loop supply chain," which would drastically reduce global electronics waste by building new Apple products using only recycled materials, including old Apple products.

Top Rated Comments

filmantopia Avatar
49 months ago
Yeah, and let's just ignore everything Apple does that helps the environment...
They don't really "help" the environment. They strive to minimize their damage to it. That said, this isn't ignoring Apple's efforts, it's just citing an area where they're falling short.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Sandstorm Avatar
49 months ago
Yeah, and let's just ignore everything Apple does that helps the environment...
And how exactly they "help" the environment? They obviously try (more than most) to harm less and be more "neutral", but that is the bare minimum every entity should do (in a perfect world, not run by greedy corporations).
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kdarling Avatar
49 months ago
The report said that this is mostly because these tech companies "hold so many positions" on the boards of green electronics standards that they can vote and resist changes they see as potentially unfavorable for their product development. This has caused the standards to become "increasingly ineffectual," ...
Yes. Some of us remember back in 2012 when Apple threatened to drop its relationship with the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) registry because their glued together laptops were given low ratings.

(They backed off after a public outcry, and a belated realization that government programs required the rating.)

Perhaps not so surprisingly, EPEAT later changed their recyclability rating rules ('https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/apple-dominates-new-epeat-tablet-registry-after-nearly-withdrawing-from-environmental-list-in-2012.1766902/') after Apple agreed to rejoin, and suddenly gave most of Apple's products a "gold star" rating... even though nothing much had changed.

No doubt Samsung has similar clout in Korea, and ditto for Chinese makers in China.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Andres Cantu Avatar
49 months ago
Yeah, and let's just ignore everything Apple does that helps the environment...
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ApfelKuchen Avatar
49 months ago
FWIW, in a 'perfect world' even the 'greedy corporations' would be driven to minimize damages... which should translate into reduced costs.

As a financial ultra-conservative, I am a big believer in the free market and can point to virtually all governmental interference as having negative consequence. Some, however, are absolutely necessary. As such, I would support financial incentives / disincentives associated with environmental impact. We should all be good stewards of our home.
The "government is only good when it does what I want it to do" theory. Good self-governance requires a willingness to compromise - give the other guy some of what he wants, the other guy gives me some of what I want. The willingness to accept that "the public good" is as meaningful as "personal good."

If you believe maximizing profit delivers the greatest good, then you you have to consider the purposes to which those profits are then applied. All too often, it results in inefficiently-used surpluses. Profligate waste on the part of those who have more than they can possibly use, resources siloed in ways that produce nearly nothing, the asset inflation that comes from too much money chasing too few good ideas.... Instead of owning the resources (tax revenue) outright, government is forced to borrow from those who possess the surplus. That is profitable for those who hold the profits, unprofitable for the rest of society.

One problem I see with the anti-government drumbeat is that it paints all of governance with the same, negative brush. You can't expect nuance from an absolutist ideology. There are too few ultra-conservatives who believe the environment is worthy of even financial incentive. They rightfully point to the added cost of those incentives, and decry it as another form of government waste. The environment is a long-term investment with a slow payback, and too few investors invest for the long term.

It doesn't matter whether it's ultra-left or ultra-right. If we leave all decision making to the private interests that control capital, they will do what is best for their own self-interest. If we leave all decision making to public interests, private interests may be trampled for "the greater good." Government of the people, by the people, and for the people requires the cooperation of all the people.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ApfelKuchen Avatar
49 months ago
Arguably, the solution for environmental friendliness is the disappearance of the human race (and even that would have some negative impact, as many species have adapted to our existence). Anything less than that is a compromise, based on our particular self-interests.

While I agree that repairability can extend the life of an item, it does not guarantee extended life. Many of Apple's manufacturing practices, like the use of adhesives, reduce the need for repair (although they may also make repair more difficult when repair is necessary). Considering the number of people who will discard rather than repair (even when repair is possible and practical), extended durability can have a substantial, positive environmental impact.

It's a far more nuanced situation than the repair advocates would like us to believe.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

tracking disabled ios 14 5

Analytics Suggest 96% of Users Leave App Tracking Disabled in iOS 14.5

Friday May 7, 2021 1:51 am PDT by
An early look at an ongoing analysis of Apple's App Tracking Transparency suggests that the vast majority of iPhone users are leaving app tracking disabled since the feature went live on April 26 with the release of iOS 14.5. According to the latest data from analytics firm Flurry, just 4% of iPhone users in the U.S. have actively chosen to opt into app tracking after updating their device...
tile amazon sidewalk integration

Tile to Leverage Amazon Echo and Ring Devices to Better Compete With AirTags

Friday May 7, 2021 2:07 pm PDT by
Amazon today announced that it is teaming up with Tile to add Amazon Sidewalk integration to Tile's Bluetooth trackers. Amazon Sidewalk, for those unfamiliar, is a network of Amazon Bluetooth devices that's designed to improve the connectivity of devices like the Ring and Amazon Echo. Tile will now be joining Amazon Sidewalk, and through this integration, Amazon Echo and Ring devices will be ...
Top Stories 59 Feature

Top Stories: Epic Games vs. Apple, Hidden AirTag Mode, Apple Music Hi-Fi, Colorful MacBook Air?

Saturday May 8, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
While we wait for the newly introduced iMac, iPad Pro, and Apple TV models to launch later this month, this week saw the kickoff of the big Epic Games v. Apple trial, with lots of juicy tidbits coming out as the two sides make their arguments. This week also saw some rumors about a Hi-Fi tier for Apple Music, more biometric sensing capabilities for Apple Watch, and timing for the...
airtag hacked

AirTag Successfully Hacked to Show Custom URL in Lost Mode

Monday May 10, 2021 1:52 am PDT by
The inevitable race to hack Apple's AirTag item tracker has reportedly been won by a German security researcher, who managed to break into the device's microcontroller and successfully modify its firmware. Yesss!!! After hours of trying (and bricking 2 AirTags) I managed to break into the microcontroller of the AirTag! 🥳🥳🥳/cc @colinoflynn @LennertWo pic.twitter.com/zGALc2S2Ph— stacksmashing ...
macbook colors 3d black bezels

Prosser: Next MacBook Air Could Come in Colors Similar to iMac

Friday May 7, 2021 6:55 am PDT by
According to Apple leaker Jon Prosser, Apple's upcoming release of the MacBook Air will feature various colors, similar to the colors in the newly released 24-inch iMac. In the latest video of his YouTube channel Front Page Tech, Prosser says the same source who accurately provided him information on the first Apple silicon iMac coming in colors has told him that he recently saw a prototype...
zoom app icon

Apple Gave Zoom Access to Special API to Use iPad Camera During Split View Multitasking

Sunday May 9, 2021 2:00 am PDT by
Zoom, a hallmark platform used by millions during the global health crisis, has been given access to a special iPadOS API that allows the app to use the iPad camera while the app is in use in Split View multitasking mode. This case of special treatment was first brought to attention by app developer Jeremy Provost, who, in a blog post, explains that Zoom uses a special API that allows the...
Apple 5G Modem Feature

Kuo: Apple-Designed 5G Modem May Debut in iPhones as Early as 2023

Sunday May 9, 2021 10:02 pm PDT by
Apple plans to adopt its own custom-designed 5G baseband chip starting with the 2023 iPhones, meaning it'll no longer need to rely on Qualcomm to supply the 5G cellular modem for the iPhone, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in an investors note obtained by MacRumors. According to Kuo, Apple plans to include its own custom-designed 5G baseband chip starting with the launch of the 2023...
3d printed airtag case siri remote

3D-Printed Case Lets You Attach an AirTag to Your Apple TV Remote

Monday May 10, 2021 8:11 am PDT by
Apple recently released a redesigned Siri Remote with a physical clickpad, but if you have an original Siri Remote laying around that you still plan on using, you may be interested in getting an AirTag case for the remote. Etsy user PrintSpiredDesigns has capitalized on the opportunity with a new 3D printed, made-to-order AirTag case for the original Siri Remote. The remote slides into the...
iPhone 13 Camera Backs

iPhone 13 Models Will Be Slightly Thicker and Will Have Larger Camera Bumps

Monday May 10, 2021 10:41 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone 13 models will be slightly thicker than the iPhone 12 models and will also feature larger, thicker camera bumps with lenses that protrude less, according to iPhone 13 schematics seen by MacRumors. The new iPhone 13 and 13 Pro models are expected to feature a thickness of 7.57mm, up from 7.4mm in the iPhone 12 models. That's an increase of 0.17mm, which won't be hugely ...
ifixit m1 macbook teardown

Leaked MacBook Schematics Have Aided Independent Technicians Performing Complicated Repairs

Monday May 10, 2021 8:51 am PDT by
Independent technicians have reportedly been able to use leaked MacBook schematics to aid repairs (via Vice). Last month, Apple supplier Quanta Computer was hit with an attack by the ransomware group known as "REvil," leading to a large quantity of internal Apple documents about both released and unreleased devices being exposed. The leaked PDFs, available on a number of forums and online...