Apple has withdrawn all of its products from the US government backed EPEAT environmental rating system it helped create. The move will have immediate effect and the Cupertino-based company will no longer submit devices for approval in the future, according to an announcement on EPEAT's website.
The idea behind EPEAT, which stands for Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, is to ensure electronics are as kind to the environment as possible. Before a product is granted with a seal of approval many factors are considered, including energy consumption, recyclability, reparability and the environmental impact of processes and materials used to manufacture the device. It covers various consumer products including displays, notebooks and desktops.
"They said their design direction was no longer consistent with the EPEAT requirements," EPEAT CEO Robert Frisbee commented. "They were important supporters and we are disappointed that they don’t want their products measured by this standard anymore."
Electronics teardown site iFixit believes the move is likely the result of new design paradigms favoring smaller and lighter notebooks and longer battery life. For example, the latest Retina MacBook Pro is nearly impossible to disassemble and has a glued in battery that iFixit says would likely leak the highly toxic innards if removed incorrectly. The difficulties with reparability and recyclability would likely prevent certification of the new rMBP.
It is also possible Apple asked that previously certified models be removed from the national registry as the newer models now replacing them are unlikely to gain certification. Regardless of the reasoning it will prevent most federal agencies from purchasing non-approved products though, as around 95% of all electronics purchased are required to conform to the EPEAT standards.
Shaw Wu, an analyst at Sterne Agee speaking to the Wall Street Journal said he believes Apple is putting design first in its latest products. "They are not trying to purposely make it hard to open, they are just trying to pack as much as they can into a small space–it's a design decision." He also thinks Apple is likely to release alternative standards for its own products in the near future.
The US retailer's iPhone and iPad devices will likely remain unaffected by the decision as neither is subject to EPEAT approvals. Apple did not respond to requests for further comment.