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Friday, July 13, 2012, 10:32 am PT (01:32 pm ET)

Apple acknowledges 'mistake,' places eligible products back on EPEAT

Responding to public criticism, Apple on Friday announced that it made a "mistake," and has placed all eligible products back on the EPEAT green certified list.

The move was explained in a letter to customers published on the environmental section of Apple's website. Penned by Bob Mansfield, Apple's senior vice president of Hardware Engineering, the letter states that Apple's commitment to the environment "has never changed."

"Our relationship with EPEAT has become stronger as a result of this experience, and we look forward to working with EPEAT as their rating system and the underlying IEEE 1680.1 standard evolve," Mansfield wrote. "Our team at Apple is dedicated to designing products that everyone can be proud to own and use."

The controversy first began a week ago, when it was revealed that Apple had voluntarily pulled its products from a list maintained by the government-sponsored standard setting group EPEAT. The move meant that Apple's previous generation products, which were already EPEAT certified, were also taken off the list.

That prompted the city of San Francisco to announce this week that it would cease purchasing Apple products without EPEAT certification. Apple then publicly defended its decision to cease EPEAT certification by noting it takes a "comprehensive approach" to making environmentally responsible products.

EPEAT


Apple originally decided to remove a total of 39 desktops, laptops and monitors from the EPEAT list, because the organization's certification requires that a product must be easily disassembled with common tools to have toxic components, such as batteries, separated from recyclable materials. Over the years, Apple's products have become increasingly difficult to take apart, which is why the repair firm iFixit recently gave the new Retina display MacBook Pro a score of 1 out of 10 on its repairability scale.

The full letter from Mansfield to customers is included below:
We’ve recently heard from many loyal Apple customers who were disappointed to learn that we had removed our products from the EPEAT rating system. I recognize that this was a mistake. Starting today, all eligible Apple products are back on EPEAT.

It’s important to know that our commitment to protecting the environment has never changed, and today it is as strong as ever. Apple makes the most environmentally responsible products in our industry. In fact, our engineering teams have worked incredibly hard over the years to make our products even more environmentally friendly, and much of our progress has come in areas not yet measured by EPEAT.

For example, Apple led the industry in removing harmful toxins such as brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). We are the only company to comprehensively report greenhouse gas emissions for every product we make, taking into account the entire product lifecycle. And we’ve removed plastics wherever possible, in favor of materials that are more highly recyclable, more durable, more efficient and longer lasting.

Perhaps most importantly, we make the most energy-efficient computers in the world and our entire product line exceeds the stringent ENERGY STAR 5.2 government standard. No one else in our industry can make that claim.

We think the IEEE 1680.1 standard could be a much stronger force for protecting the environment if it were upgraded to include advancements like these. This standard, on which the EPEAT rating system is based, is an important measuring stick for our industry and its products.

Our relationship with EPEAT has become stronger as a result of this experience, and we look forward to working with EPEAT as their rating system and the underlying IEEE 1680.1 standard evolve. Our team at Apple is dedicated to designing products that everyone can be proud to own and use.

Bob