Apple had to have known that pulling out of EPEAT, especially on such short notice, would have repercussions, but whatever preparations it made to cope with the response don't seem to have been enough.EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) is the main global environmental rating system for electronics devices, so it was quite a shock when Apple ever so suddenly decided to cut ties with it a week ago.
One of the reasons given, or leaked in some way or another, was that Apple wants to manufacture products sealed shut, especially the new MacBook Pro with Retina display.
This is in conflict with EPEAT's demand that products have a “disassemble-ability,” where “External enclosures, chassis, and electronic subassemblies shall be removable with commonly available tools or by hand.”
Apple also argued that its products are superior in certain areas not tracked by EPEAT, like removal of toxic materials.
All in all, Apple hoped that it would be enough to abide by the other key standards, like Energy Star 5.2, pointing out that the Apple website even reports each product’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that corporations and governmental agencies require EPEAT labels on their purchases 95% of the time.
It didn't take long for the University of California to consider complete cessation of Apple product purchases, and even the city of San Francisco expressed how adamant it was that no non-EPEAT products would be accepted.
It didn't really help Apple's case that even previous-generation products, already EPEAT-certified, were pulled from the list.
Now, though, Apple is back on board with EPEAT, as revealed in a letter to customers published on the environmental section of Apple's website.
“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,” wrote Bob Mansfield, Apple's senior vice president of Hardware Engineering.
“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.”
It is obvious enough that reparability is not something that the world is willing to go without. It remains to be seen whether or not Apple reconsiders its tendency to make devices harder and harder to take apart.