Apple has posted on open letter on their website, addressing concerns over their recent removal of the EPA's EPEAT certification from 39 Mac-related products, and announcing Apple would be returning to the EPEAT certifications. Senior Vice-President of Hardware Engineering, Bob Mansfield, writes on Apple.com:
It’s important to know that our commitment to protecting the environment has never changed, and today it is as strong as ever. Apple makes the most environmentally responsible products in our industry. In fact, our engineering teams have worked incredibly hard over the years to make our products even more environmentally friendly, and much of our progress has come in areas not yet measured by EPEAT.
We think the IEEE 1680.1 standard could be a much stronger force for protecting the environment if it were upgraded to include advancements [Apple has made]. This standard, on which the EPEAT rating system is based, is an important measuring stick for our industry and its products.
While the EPEAT standard is old and doesn't even consider the majority of Apple's business, namely iPhones and iPads, even given Apple's previous statement on the removal, Apple's removal of EPEAT had caused problems for government and private organizations that require the certification as part of their procurement process.
It's odd that Apple would leave and return so quickly and publicly, but it did cause a massive amount of attention, and that could have been the intent. It's possible Apple caved to pressure, but it's also possible EPEAT and Apple came to some kind of understanding.
A quick perusal of Apple.com shows EPEAT hasn't only returned, but is now listed on the Retina MacBook Pro page, which didn't seem possible previously. That may indicate Apple managed to come out of this exchange ahead of where they were before.
As to the open letter, Apple has struggled at times with response-driven public relations, and quick move like this, at the executive team level, could show they're improving in that regard. Or it could show Apple needed a way to reclaim and redirect the attention quickly.
The author of the letter, Bob Mansfield, has previously announced his intention to retire from Apple, but his service to company and reputation lend weight to an open letter, without putting it on Tim Cook's desk, and without leaving it for his successor, Dan Riccio to stumble over on day one.
So ends a quick and curious news cycle. Anyone running out to buy a newly re-EPEATed Mac or peripheral?
UPDATE: EPEAT CEO Robert Frisbee has posted an open letter as well, saying in part:
We look forward to Apple’s strong and creative thoughts on ongoing standards development. 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.
An interesting question for EPEAT is how to reward innovations that are not yet envisioned with standards that are fixed at a point in time. Diverse goals, optional points awarded for innovations not yet described, and flexibility within specified parameters to make this happen are all on the table in EPEAT stakeholder discussions. And of course, timely standards development, as with newly created Imaging Equipment and Television standards, and the current refresh of the PC/Display standard, is critical as well.
In other words, wiggle room?