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Apple's thorny relationship with environmental organizations has taken yet another turn. The company has pulled its computers from the EPEAT registry.
EPEAT, in a brief statement on the its website, said, "We regret that Apple will no longer be registering its products in EPEAT. We hope that they will decide to do so again at some point in the future."
EPEAT, which stands for Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, is a registry of environmentally friendly computers and peripherals. It bills itself as "the leading global environmental rating system for electronic products, connecting purchasers to environmentally preferable choices and benefiting producers who demonstrate environmental responsibility and innovation."
The voluntary ratings system guides the IT purchasing decisions of several organizations, most notably the U.S. federal government -- 95 percent of federal PCs must be EPEAT-certified. In effect, Apple's decision to leave EPEAT means that its products are now largely shut out of the federal IT spending process.
On a local level, at least one major municipality is taking swift action to update its PC purchasing policies in light of Apple's defection.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the San Francisco's Department of Environment is alerting city agencies that Apple-branded PCs "will no longer qualify" for purchase under the city's IT procurement rules. While the Department of Environment cannot enforce the rule, Jon Walton, San Francisco's CIO, said that the city will abide by the regulations. Although exceptions can be granted, it involves a "long" and "onerous" waiver process, according to the report.
Apple's response to the controversy: We're green enough.
Apple spokesperson Kristin Huguet told the The Loop, "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." She also pointed to the company's efforts to slash greenhouse gas emissions and claimed that "Apple products are superior in other important environmental areas not measured by EPEAT, such as removal of toxic materials."
This is not the first time Apple's actions have caused a stir among environmental groups.
In April, the Apple caught Greenpeace's ire over its massive cloud data center in Maiden, N.C., which the group claimed would be substantially powered by coal. Apple quickly fired back, stating that the data center was "on track to supply more than 60% of that power on-site from renewable sources, including a solar farm and fuel cell installation which will each be the largest of their kind in the country."
In May, Apple took things a step further by pledging that its Maiden facility will be completely powered by renewable energy by the end of the year. Additionally, the company is working toward the same goal for its Newark, Calif. facility and a new data center built in Prineville, Ore.