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Apple rejoins EPEAT, admits quitting was a mistake

July 13th, 2012

Apple gives itself a Gold grade for laptop where the battery is glued in

Laptop battery photo

Apple glues the battery to the case of its Mac Book Pro with retina display. Photo courtesy of iFixit.

Apple  rejoined the EPEAT green electronics program today, relisting its qualifying products on the EPEAT registry of computer products that meet the IEEE standard 1680.1 for environmentally preferable attributes. Apple published a statement on its website today, from Senior VP Bob Mansfield, saying that leaving EPEAT “was a mistake.”

Apple took a lot of heat for quitting EPEAT. The City of San Francisco had said they would no longer purchase Apple computers. The San Jose Mercury news published a scathing editorial yesterday, calling on Apple to “think green, not greed.”

Apple had unexpectedly quit the EPEAT program recently, suddenly removing all of its products from the registry – the list that EPEAT maintains to let purchasers know which products are EPEAT-rated, and at what rating level (bronze, silver, or gold).  This move was surprising, given that Apple has been a leader in many aspects of environmental design, like selecting recyclable, and less toxic materials. All its products on the registry were at the Gold level.

It’s generally believed that Apple had quit EPEAT because it’s new flagship laptop – the Mac Book Pro with retina display – couldn’t meet some of  EPEAT’s “Design for End of Life” criteria because Apple glues the battery into the laptop with industrial strength glue. This makes it impossible for consumers to replace the battery themselves, but even the super-experienced repair guys at iFixit couldn’t remove the battery without puncturing it, “releasing hazardous goo all over.”

Apple should flunk EPEAT for gluing in the battery

While we are very glad to see that Apple has rejoined the EPEAT program, we are astonished to see that in reposting its products to the EPEAT registry, Apple has actually listed four versions of the Mac Book Pro with retina as EPEAT Gold level products.  We seriously doubt that these Mac Books should qualify for EPEAT at any level because we think they flunk two required criteria in the “Design for End of Life” section of the standard. They are:

  • Criterion 4.3.1.3: External enclosures shall be easily removable by one person alone with commonly available tools.
    While you can open up the enclosure, you can’t completely remove one half of the casing from the large group of batteries. They are glued to the case with industrial strength glue.
  •  Criterion 4.3.1.5 Identification and removal of components containing hazardous materials.
    This criteria specifically applies to batteries, as well as circuit boards over 10 cm2 and other components, and says they must be safely and easily removable. Gluing the battery in does not quality as “easily removable.” In fact, it’s exactly the kind of design that this standard seeks to discourge.

It’s important to understand that the manufacturers grade themselves against the EPEAT criteria first, and then EPEAT conducts a review of this grading. That EPEAT review has not yet occurred. They can require the manufacturers to remove any product from the registry if it is not found to conform to the IEEE standard.

Apple is often a design leader in electronics, but they really blew it here.  They are ignoring a really important design goal here – designing to promote product longevity and reuse.  Designers should make it as easy as possible for users to replace their own batteries. This is like designing a car with tires that you can’t replace when you have a flat without making an appointment at the dealer and paying them a hefty fee for the tire.

We hope Apple’s next version of this Mac Book Pro comes with a removable battery.


76 Responses to “Apple rejoins EPEAT, admits quitting was a mistake”

And, now for the truth:

The industrial-strength glue easily releases the MacBook Pro with Retina display’s batteries after warming on the case side from a common hair dryer. The batteries remain intact. They are removed with a common a putty knife. The same way iPads and iPhones are disassembled.

A 5-point (pentapoint) screwdriver opens the case. Everything else inside comes out with ease.

Construction that lasts twice as long and uses less material is greener than one that lasts half as long, uses more material.

The smart and nimble have already figured out why Apple – however clumsily and bluntly – tried to move forward and why the company’s approach is better for the environment. The rest are left behind, struggling to figure out why, for example, non-removable batteries coupled with free Apple recycling programs that safely dispose of them in an environmentally responsible manner are better than the old removable batteries, still loved by the EPEAT anachronism, the vast majority of which end up being dumped straight into landfills, the world’s oceans, and God only knows where else.

So, it’s not at all difficult to grasp: You buy the Apple product, you use it up, you send it back to Apple for free, and Apple makes sure it doesn’t end up fouling the planet. A simple, clean, closed loop. No other tech company comes close to Apple on protecting the environment. Period.

If all you want is to dispose of your unwanted equipment — regardless of brand — Apple Inc. will help you do that. Apple contracts with Sims Recycling Solutions to responsibly recycle computers and displays from any manufacturer. Sims Recycling Solutions feature domestic processing facilities where a zero-landfill policy and proven sustainability give you peace of mind in knowing that your electronics will be managed responsibly. Just call 800-966-4135 to receive a free prepaid shipping label. Then pack up your equipment using your own box and send it off. For more information about Sims Recycling Solutions, visit http://oem.srsapp.com/ApplePoweredBysims

[...] wrote Barbara Kyle, the ETBC’s National Coordinator, on the organization’s website, “because we think they flunk two required criteria in the ‘Design for End of [...]

[...] problema, spiegano gli osservatori sul sito della Electronics TakeBack Coalition, è che difficilmente un dispositivo con simili caratteristiche potrebbe guadagnarsi il bollino [...]

[...] problema, spiegano gli osservatori sul sito della Electronics TakeBack Coalition, è che difficilmente un dispositivo con simili caratteristiche potrebbe guadagnarsi il bollino [...]

[...] wrote Barbara Kyle, the ETBC’s National Coordinator, on the organization’s website, “because we think they flunk two required criteria in the ‘Design for End of [...]

[...] iFixit Fortune, however, cites the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Barbara Kyle in a blog posting that expressed doubts that this rating will ultimately [...]

[...] via iFixit Fortune, however, cites the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Barbara Kyle in a blog posting that expressed doubts that this rating will ultimately stick: Kyle explains: “It’s [...]

[...] via iFixit Fortune, however, cites the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Barbara Kyle in a blog posting that expressed doubts that this rating will ultimately stick: Kyle explains: “It’s [...]

[...] via iFixit Fortune, however, cites the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Barbara Kyle in a blog posting that expressed doubts that this rating will ultimately stick: Kyle explains: “It’s [...]

[...] hat Apple sein neues Mac-Flaggschiff selbst mit der Höchstwertung ausgezeichnet, nun aber meldet sich die Electronics TakeBack Coalition zu Wort und geht davon aus, dass dieser Gold-Status des [...]

[...] via iFixit Fortune, however, cites the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Barbara Kyle in a blog posting that expressed doubts that this rating will ultimately stick: Kyle explains: “It’s [...]

[...] via iFixit Fortune, however, cites the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Barbara Kyle in a blog posting that expressed doubts that this rating will ultimately stick: Kyle explains: “It’s [...]

[...] via iFixitFortune, however, cites the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Barbara Kyle in a blog posting that expressed doubts that this rating will ultimately stick: Kyle explains: “It’s [...]

[...] via iFixitFortune, however, cites the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Barbara Kyle in a blog posting that expressed doubts that this rating will ultimately stick:Kyle explains: “It’s [...]

The iPad 2 is glued together, yet is easily opened using a heat gun – see step 4 in the teardown:
http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/iPad-2-Wi-Fi-Teardown/5071/1

As such, why should gluing in the battery of the new Mac Book Pro Retina be such a big deal when it lets them build the machines using less material (which is shown in part by how much thinner and lighter is it than the non-retina version) ?

[...] de iFixit fortuna, sin embargo, cita Barbara la coalición Electronics TakeBack Kyle en un blog de contabilización que expresaron dudas de que finalmente se pegue esta [...]

[...] via iFixit Fortune, however, cites the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Barbara Kyle in a blog posting that expressed doubts that this rating will ultimately stick: Kyle explains: “It’s [...]

[...] via iFixit Fortune, however, cites the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Barbara Kyle in a blog posting that expressed doubts that this rating will ultimately stick: Kyle explains: “It’s [...]

[...] wrote Barbara Kyle, the ETBC’s National Coordinator, on the organization’s website, “because we think they flunk two required criteria in the ‘Design for End of [...]

[...] via iFixit Fortune, however, cites the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Barbara Kyle in a blog posting that expressed doubts that this rating will ultimately stick: Kyle explains: “It’s [...]

[...] however, cites the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Barbara Kyle in a blog posting that expressed doubts that this rating will ultimately [...]

[...] via iFixit Fortune, however, cites the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Barbara Kyle in a blog posting that expressed doubts that this rating will ultimately stick: Kyle explains: “It’s [...]

[...] via iFixit Fortune, however, cites the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Barbara Kyle in a blog posting that expressed doubts that this rating will ultimately stick: Kyle explains: “It’s [...]

[...] via iFixit Fortune, however, cites the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Barbara Kyle in a blog posting that expressed doubts that this rating will ultimately [...]

[...] via iFixit Fortune, however, cites the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Barbara Kyle in a blog posting that expressed doubts that this rating will ultimately stick: Kyle explains: “It’s [...]

[...] via iFixit Fortune, however, cites the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Barbara Kyle in a blog posting that expressed doubts that this rating will ultimately stick: Kyle explains: “It’s [...]

[...] via iFixit Fortune, however, cites the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Barbara Kyle in a blog posting that expressed doubts that this rating will ultimately stick: Kyle explains: “It’s [...]

[...] Apple rejoins EPEAT, admits quitting was a mistake | Electronics TakeBack Coalition It’s important to understand that the manufacturers grade themselves against the EPEAT criteria first, and then EPEAT conducts a review of this grading. That EPEAT review has not yet occurred. They can require the manufacturers to remove any product from the registry if it is not found to conform to the IEEE standard. [...]

[...] via iFixit Fortune, however, cites the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Barbara Kyle in a blog posting that expressed doubts that this rating will ultimately stick: Kyle explains: “It’s [...]

[...] via iFixit Fortune, however, cites the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Barbara Kyle in a blog posting that expressed doubts that this rating will ultimately stick: Kyle explains: “It’s [...]

[...] via iFixit Fortune, however, cites the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Barbara Kyle in a blog posting that expressed doubts that this rating will ultimately stick: Kyle explains: “It’s [...]

[...] meldet sich Electronics TakeBack Coalition mit der Neuigkeit, dass Apple für ihr neues MaBook Pro den Gold-Status verlieren könnte, dies aus [...]

the Batteries are not glued with industrial strength glue… they are easily taken out with a screwdriver…

if you read iFixit’s first report of the disassembly, iFixIt said, you can’t do it without damaging a main cable, they made no mention of it being not being able to pry up, just tough to do without damage…. that doesn’t mean they don’t pry out easily though…. they even show a battery half pried out, but stopped for fear of damage… lets’ be clear, a recycler could care less whether the aluminum is bent, or the battery is damaged… the aluminum is still recyclable… and the battery is still as toxic. and by the way, please name all the computers that are made out of aluminum, so that they CAN BE RECYCLED in the first place…. hello?

now later after the hoopla someone there at fixit is “embellishing” on how much elbow grease you need, fine, it is still easy to remove with a large flat chisel, just by prying…. BY ONE PERSON… and even when you puncture the battery, that still means it is recyclable.. because those batteries are not… they just need to be removed… punctured or not, they still are hazardous…

so both of those criteria are in fact easy to do… by one person…. with a screwdriver or other sucy instrument….

the standard does not say you can’t “glue” the batteries, it says it has to be removed easily, and one person with a screwdriver can remove them about as fast as the time it took to unscrew the case and the circuit board screws….

does that mean the case is “hard to remove” too? where did you get the impression that “glue” is a hazard or bad? or that glue isn’t used in every other complex product that is recycled?

After all this is said and done, i do agree with iFixIt, that they should not put glue on the cables, (nor use too much glue) so that the battery can be pried out without damage to the computer FOR FIXING THE COMPUTER, this has nothing to do with recycling the computer, and what this story/organization is about though. It still can be pried out in about the time it takes to unscrew the circuit board, which is another task that people appear to think is “easily” removed, yet it takes longer.

seriously, ask a recycler whether they would have trouble removing the battery? and more importantly, whether they value the aluminum? as opposed to what other manufactures use? that being said, yes, make a stink, i would like them to use less glue, so that they are fixable, but that has nothing to do with recyclability….

and don’t get me started on “sustainability” when this manufacture uses a 4 to 5 year life battery, while others use 2 year life batteries, and worse, when they replace the battery, people use cheap knock offs from china, so they infact last a year at most…. filling the landfills with 3 times as many batteries, as one that is “glued” in… so people can’t buy cheap knock offs from china…. in bells and whistles going off there for you?

tell us again about “sustainability” after you do a life cycle test on the two methods….

and please remove the spam that is accumulated in your comments… it is embarrassing that you help these spammers with links to their sites, when you are expressing “green” while these same spammers fill our trash bags with junk mail, (same ones that spam on the internet)

[...] wrote Barbara Kyle, the ETBC’s National Coordinator, on the organization’s website, “because we think they flunk two required criteria in the ‘Design for End of [...]

[...] via iFixit Fortune, however, cites the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Barbara Kyle in a blog posting that expressed doubts that this rating will ultimately stick: Kyle explains: “It’s [...]

[...] non è stata ancora effettuata dai responsabili dell’ente, quindi tutto può succedere. [Via]Altri articoli che ti potrebbero interessareNuovi modelli di iMac previsti nei prossimi mesi, ma [...]

[...] however, cites the Electronics TakeBack Coalition's Barbara Kyle in a blog posting that expressed doubts that this rating will ultimately [...]

Great post, thanks for sharing. It’s good to see Apple returning to EPEAT.

[...] Electronics TakeBack Coalition national coordinator Barbara Kyle wrote on the organisation’s website: “We seriously doubt that these MacBooks should qualify for EPEAT at any level because we think they flunk two required criteria in the ‘Design for End of Life’ section of the standard.” [...]

[...] coalition of electronics recyclers are disputing the Retina MacBook Pro’s newly minted EPEAT “Gold” status, noting that the [...]

[...] coalition of electronics recyclers are disputing the Retina MacBook Pro’s newly minted EPEAT “Gold” status, noting that the [...]

[...] coalition of electronics recyclers are disputing the Retina MacBook Pro’s newly minted EPEAT “Gold” status, noting that the [...]

[...] coalition &#959f electronics recyclers &#1072r&#1077 disputing th&#1077 Retina MacBook Pro’s newly minted EPEAT “Gold” status, noting th&#1072t [...]

[...] Sprecherin der Umweltinitiative ETBC weist darauf hin, dass die neuesten Apple-Notebooks gegen zwei der EPEAT-Richtlinen verstoßen und gibt sich ob der [...]

[...] coalition of electronics recyclers are disputing the Retina MacBook Pro’s newly minted EPEAT “Gold” status, noting that the [...]

[...] bloc of wiring recyclers are disputing a Retina MacBook Pro’s newly minted EPEAT “Gold” status, observant that a [...]

[...] Electronics TakeBack Coalition national coordinator Barbara Kyle wrote on the organisation’s website: “We seriously doubt that these MacBooks should qualify for EPEAT at any level because we think they flunk two required criteria in the ‘Design for End of Life’ section of the standard.” [...]

[...] senza che la Electronics TakeBack Coalition contesti la decisione di [...]

[...] — 07/17/2012 01:49 PM — A coalition of electronics recyclers are disputing the Retina MacBook Pro’s newly minted EPEAT “Gold” status, noting that the [...]

[...] coalition of electronics recyclers are disputing the Retina MacBook Pro’s newly minted EPEAT “Gold” status, noting that the [...]

[...] wrote ETBC’s National Coordinator Barbara Kyle wrote on the organization’s website, “because we think they flunk two required criteria in the ‘Design for End of [...]

[...] we think they flunk two required criteria in the ‘Design for End of Life’ [...]

[...] coalition of electronics recyclers are disputing the Retina MacBook Pro’s newly minted EPEAT “Gold” status, noting that the [...]

[...] doubt that these Mac Books should qualify for EPEAT at any level because we think they flunk two required criteria in the ‘Design for End of Life’ section of the [...]

[...] the new Macbook has been approved by EPEAT. How exactly, no one is sure. According to the Electronics TakeBack Coalition national coordinator, Barbara Kyle, Apple unjustly awarded themselves the Gold EPEAT award. Kyle [...]

[...] doubt that these Mac Books should qualify for EPEAT at any level because we think they flunk two required criteria in the ‘Design for End of Life’ section of the [...]

[...] doubt that these Mac Books should qualify for EPEAT at any level because we think they flunk two required criteria in the ‘Design for End of Life’ section of the [...]

[...] doubt that these Mac Books should qualify for EPEAT at any level because we think they flunk two required criteria in the ‘Design for End of Life’ section of the [...]

[...] Friday, Kyle wrote a blog post on the organization’s website arguing that Apple’s new Macbook Pro with retina display [...]

[...] Friday, Kyle wrote a blog post on the organization’s website arguing that Apple’s new Macbook Pro with retina display [...]

[...] Friday, Kyle wrote a blog post on the organization’s website arguing that Apple’s new Macbook Pro with retina display [...]

[...] Friday, Kyle wrote a blog post on the organization’s website arguing that Apple’s new Macbook Pro with retina display [...]

[...] Friday, Kyle wrote a blog post on the organization’s website arguing that Apple’s new Macbook Pro with retina display [...]

[...] Friday, Kyle wrote a blog post on a organization’s website arguing that Apple’s new Macbook Pro with retina [...]

[...] Friday, Kyle wrote a blog post on the organization’s website arguing that Apple’s new Macbook Pro with retina display [...]

[...] and recyclability still remains to be seen — after all upon their return they listed the new MacBook Pro with the glued-in battery listed as EPEAT Gold. Huh?? Hopefully EPEAT rectifies that during its verification [...]

[...] Friday, Kyle wrote a blog post on the organization’s website arguing that Apple’s new Macbook Pro with retina display [...]

[...] via iFixit Fortune, however, cites the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Barbara Kyle in a blog posting that expressed doubts that this rating will ultimately stick: Kyle explains: “It’s [...]

[...] Friday, Kyle wrote a blog post on the organization’s website arguing that Apple’s new Macbook Pro with retina display [...]

First, I have to say it is difficult to take this blog seriously given the number of spammy comments I see above. Discourages serious, thoughtful discussion or feedback.

As for your comments regarding Apple’s latest laptops, I think it is important to take a serious look at a thorough lifecycle analysis of the product in question. End of life recycling, while important, should not be the only criteria for determining the “greenness” of a product. Product longevity and power consumption are just as important. I can’t speak for Apple engineers regarding their design decisions, but there are good reasons for using adhesives in electronic devices beyond basic assembly criteria. For example, batteries and other electronic components experience shorter lifespans when exposed to vibration and excessive heat. Adhesives can be very effective heat conductors and mechanical stabilizers.
If end of life disassembly is going to weigh heavily on a product’s EPEAT rating, maybe more work should be done to develop adhesives that release on demand (such things exist now, such as 3M Command).
As for ifixit, I’m a fan – they have helped me extend the life of one of my Apple laptops to almost 10 years now, but we musn’t forget that ifixit is a business interested in protecting their turf. Their teardown analysis of the new Macbook is aimed at DIY repairability, not end of life recycling. Yes, the new Macbook has little to offer to someone who wants to hack the hardware, but 99.9% of Apple’s customers have no need or desire to do such a thing.
Apple and other mass producers of consumer electronics must be held to a high standard when it comes to the environmental impact of their products and manufacturing processes. Hopefully discussion will improve the usefulness of EPEAT as electronic devices continue to evolve.

[...] Friday, Kyle wrote a blog post on the organization’s website arguing that Apple’s new Macbook Pro with retina display [...]

[...] Friday, Kyle wrote a blog post on the organization’s website arguing that Apple’s new Macbook Pro with retina display [...]

[...] via iFixit Fortune, however, cites the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Barbara Kyle in a blog posting that expressed doubts that this rating will ultimately stick: Kyle explains: “It’s [...]

[...] such as environmental advocacy group the Electronics TakeBack Coalition (ETBC), which was the first to point out that Apple had re-listed the Macbook Pro Retina Display as a “Gold” EPEAT product, the highest [...]