While suicides and inhumane working conditions along Apple’s supply line couldn’t get people’s attention, it looks like flouting Mother Earth certainly does. Following Apple’s withdrawal from the EPEAT environmental standards program the company has experienced a startlingly vehement backlash, with various consumers, corporate, and governmental clients all vowing to stop using Apple products until things are changed.
Strangely enough, while Apple’s PR department was able to make the working conditions fiasco largely go away with a few decisive sounding press releases that promised all sorts of hollow platitudes, such a strategy may not work this time, as Apple has apparently committed the one unforgivable faux pas, its not green.
In an attempt to stop the haemorrhaging and show that it truly does care for Mother Earth, Apple has responded to the criticism, explaining that while its products don’t meet EPEAT’s sharply delineated standards, “Apple products are superior in other important environmental areas not measured by EPEAT.” But is it true?
To its credit Apple is at least aware of its environmental impact, posting its carbon footprint clearly on its website, along with information regarding its toxic output, carbon emissions, and how much the company recycles each year.
As Apple representative Kristin Huguet told The Loop, “Apple takes a comprehensive approach to measuring our environmental impact and all of our products meet the strictest energy efficiency standards backed by the US government, Energy Star 5.2…We also lead the industry by reporting each product’s greenhouse gas emissions on our website, and Apple products are superior in other important environmental areas not measured by EPEAT, such as removal of toxic materials.”
While its certainly true that there are many things related to producing environmentally-friendly products that EPEAT does not measure, Apple of course says nothing about how its products do actually measure up to EPEAT standards. As I mentioned earlier this week, the EPEAT rating system grades, among other things, the recyclability of hardware, measuring the long term impact these devices, which are often filled with noxious chemicals, will have on our landfills and on our planet.
In order to earn EPEAT certification, companies must manufacture products that recyclers can easily dissemble to remove dangerous components; the key area, the Wall Street Journal reported, that Apple’s new products now fail. In fact, the WSJ reported that Apple’s new MacBook Pro was “nearly impossible to fully disassemble” because the battery was glued to the case and the display was glued to the body. Producing products in this way, the report goes on to say, renders the device impossible to fully recycle.
Again, in all of Apple’s explanations and spin doctoring the company did not once address the specific reason it left the EPEAT registry, but it’s not hard to see why. To provide consumers the market leading retina display sacrifices needed to be made. While the company has shown a willingness to sacrifice human dignity to make its products, this time it was simply Mother Earth’s turn to pay the price for dazzling, eye-popping resolution. So my question to you is, is the price worth it?