Does Apple Have a SECRET Reason for Abandoning GREEN Standards?

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has withdrawn all of its Mac products from EPEAT certification and will no longer be submitting its products for review, according to a recent statement by the recycling rating service.

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The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, or EPEAT, “evaluates the environmental impact of a product based on how recyclable it is, how much energy it uses, and how it’s designed and manufactured.” Apple has been one of EPEAT’s key supporters for years, but despite the fact that most Mac models still meet EPEAT standards, Apple is withdrawing its product line from review.

Apple’s move could foreshadow some changes in design on the horizon, but that potentiality makes it no less shocking. Apple has withdrawn its 39 products from the EPEAT, which means none of the company’s products technically meet the industry’s green standard anymore — a standard that many large companies, educational institutions, and the U.S. federal government require from their computers. That means a large portion of the enterprise and education sectors could be barred from purchasing Apple products, at least for now.

For those thinking the move might only be temporary while Apple develops a new product or range of products, EPEAT CEO Robert Frisbee is offering some contrary evidence. “They said their design direction was no longer consistent with the EPEAT requirements,” Frisbee told the CIO Journal. Apple did not elaborate beyond that statement, he said.

But if Apple is truly abandoning a certification that has helped it sell products to major institutional buyers over the years, then it stands to reason the company feels the direction it’s taking will more than justify the move.

The repair gurus at iFixit offered some insight into the change:

According to my EPEAT contacts, Apple’s mobile design direction is in conflict with the intended direction of the standard. Specifically, the standard lays out particular requirements for product “disassemble-ability,” a very important consideration for recycling: “External enclosures, chassis, and electronic subassemblies shall be removable with commonly available tools or by hand.” Electronics recyclers need to take out hazardous components such as batteries before sending computers through their shredders, because batteries can catch fire when punctured.

iFixit recently named the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display Apple’s “least repairable laptop yet” because of the difficulty, or near impossibility, of disassembling the device, which comes with RAM soldered to the logic board, a non-upgradeable SSD, a completely fused display, and lithium-polymer battery glued rather than screwed into the case, which increases the likelihood of something breaking when trying to remove the battery. The MacBook Air and Apple’s last two iPhone updates are also virtually impossible to repair.

So why would Apple want its devices to be un-repairable? Well, it certainly creates a larger market for its extended Apple Care warranty. But it seems more likely the company is putting design and customer experience at the forefront of its product decisions — Apple already has a solid share of the smartphone, tablet, and PC markets, giving it room to take chances in an effort to offer customers higher-quality products. Afterall, the aspects of the new MacBook Pro that make it Apple’s “least repairable laptop yet” have also helped make it Apple’s most desirable laptop yet — just look at the sales figures for the new device.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares are trading up nearly 1 percent this afternoon and 51 percent this year to date.

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