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Tech Wednesday, July 11th 2012 at 8:35 am

San Francisco City Government Won’t Buy Apple Products, Apple Maintains it’s Still Green

Two days ago we got word that Apple was dropping the eco-friendly EPEAT certification from all its products. The move was unusual for Apple, which has spent several years trying to green-up its act. Now some consequences of that decision are coming, as the city of San Francisco says that it won’t buy any more Apple products. Meanwhile, Apple says its as green as ever.

EPEAT, or the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, certifies electronic devices that meet certain standards for recyclability and energy efficiency. Apple’s decision to de-list all of its products from the standard is particularly odd, since it was part of a conglomeration of companies, environmentalists, and government agencies that created the standard in the first place.

The goernment’s role in creating the standard is not incidental, as it has been widely adopted by governmental, educational, and business institutions as a guideline for what computers will be purchased. If it doesn’t have EPEAT certification, it simply won’t be considered by some groups.

That seems to be the case in San Francisco, where the city government has decided to forgo future Apple purchases. From the Wall Street Journal:

“We are disappointed that Apple chose to withdraw from EPEAT,” said Melanie Nutter, director of San Francisco’s Department of Environment, “and we hope that the city saying it will not buy Apple products will make Apple reconsider its participation.”

San Francisco has held a policy of only purchasing EPEAT electronics since 2007, and seems to be following that decision now. In our original report on Apple’s abandoning EPEAT, we noted that Executive Order 13423 requires that all federal offices only purchase EPEAT equipment.

However, Apple claims that despite dropping EPEAT that it’s products are as green as ever. The Loop quotes Apple spokesperson Kristin Huguet as saying:

“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.”

It’s true that while Apple may no longer be EPEAT certified, it still provides carbon footprint reports about all of the components in its devices. It would seem that although Apple is no longer interested in making their computers easily repairable — and, in turn, recyclable — it is still making some effort to be “green.” Just how you define that is a little tricky.

While the loss of San Francisco, which is in Apple’s backyard, is something of a moral blow it is unlikely to affect the company’s bottom line. In their report, the WSJ says that San Fran spent a mere $45,579 on Apple products in 2010. If, however, other organizations — particularly, universities — decide to shirk Apple products as well, the company might take notice. Unless, of course, Apple thinks they can convince everyone to just give up on the standard they helped create.

(The Wall Street Journal, The Loop, via Techmeme, screenshot of Apple’s environmental page)

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