Just one week after removing 39 of the company's laptops and computers from the widely used EPEAT certification for environmental friendliness, Apple's Senior VP of Hardware Engineering explained today that all of the company's eligible products have been re-listed with the EPEAT ratings system. Leading millions of environmentally concerned Apple users to let out a collective sigh of relief.
Acknowledging the mistake, Apple SVP Bob Mansfield explained that his company's products are still "the most environmentally responsible" in the industry and that much of their green-washing work has come in areas that aren't currently measured by EPEAT. Mansfield did not, however, offer any explanation as to why Apple decided to remove the certification label in the first place.
Likewise, EPEAT CEO Robert Frisbee posted an open letter about the situation on Friday, noting that Apple has been a strong partner in helping drive the computer industry's environmental standards. "We look forward to Apple’s strong and creative thoughts on ongoing standards development," Frisbee wrote. "The outcome must reward new directions for both design and sustainability, simultaneously supporting the environment and the market for all manufacturers’ elegant and high-performance products."
While many reports from the tech media cited the difficult to disassemble (and recycle) new Retina Display MacBook Pro as the reason why Apple decided to part ways with the certification system, neither Apple nor EPEAT ever specifically cited that laptop as the culprit. Frisbee hinted at the battery issue to the WSJ, but that particular laptop is now listed as Gold certified on EPEAT's system.
The City of San Francisco's Department of the Environment, which caused a big stir on the Internet earlier this week when city officials announced their disappointment over the certification snafu, also released a brief statement saying the city is "pleased to learn that Apple is rejoining EPEAT."
Greenpeace, on the other hand, is using the opportunity to take Apple to task for using of coal-driven energy to power their iCloud data storage service. In their own statement, Greenpeace wrote: "We applaud Apple for 'thinking green, not greedy' and listening to its customers' calls not to pit design needs against the environment. A large and growing number Apple customers have challenged the company to be an environmental leader, whether that be by rejoining EPEAT, eliminating toxic chemicals from its products, or powering its iCloud with renewable energy."
While some of Apple's more rabid fans will be quick to point out this kind of PR snafu would have never occurred under Steve Jobs' watch, the quick turnaround from all parties has us wondering if it was Apple's plan to get the latest battery issue overlooked from the start. Even a widely used system like EPEAT would have to take notice when the largest computer maker in the world pulls all their machines from the program.