Retina MacBook Pro’s Gold Standard Rating Is Proof EPEAT Means Nothing

Retina MacBook Pro’s Gold Standard Rating Is Proof EPEAT Means Nothing

Tearing down the Retina MacBook Pro is like trying to dismantle an atomic bomb.

iFixit called the the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display the “least repairable” laptop ever made, and for good reason. Apple’s super-strong glue, soldering, and proprietary screws make it impossible to replace the battery, upgrade RAM, swap the circuit boards, etc. That’s why Apple originally withdrew its products from EPEAT, the American standard for eco-friendly consumer electronics. After plenty of public outcry, Apple issued an apology and re-added its products to the EPEAT’s registry, despite the fact that laptops like the Retina MacBook Pro aren’t exactly “green.”

Last week EPEAT said that Apple’s products, including new laptops like the Retina MacBook Pro, meet its eligibility requirement for registry approval. Now EPEAT is giving the Retina MacBook Pro its highest “Gold” approval rating.

Today iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens is calling EPEAT out for compromising to accommodate Apple. He accuses EPEAT of being “laughably out of touch” and effectively “greenwashing” the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display:

Apple’s MacBook Pro with Retina display is not repairable, it’s not upgradeable, and it’s not easy to disassemble for recycling. But it is EPEAT Gold. The Product Verification Committee’s decision essentially greenwashes the Retina.

Our engineers spent over an hour attempting to separate the battery from the computer, carefully prying to avoid puncturing the battery. If this same computer can earn a gold status, we should be asking ourselves, “What exactly can’t earn a green rating?” With these new definitions, pretty much every computer can be included in the registry.

It’s true that Apple’s iOS devices haven’t been EPEAT-compliant for years, so it’s no surprise that the Mac is moving towards the same type of non-upgradable internal design. What’s sad is that EPEAT has effectively ruined its own credibility with this rating for the Retina MacBook Pro. It will be interesting to see if Apple gets involved with this drama again. EPEAT’s criteria for rating products definitely needs to be reevaluated.

Make sure to read iFixit’s piece on the controversy for a thorough breakdown of what this means for EPEAT and the consumer electronics industry as a whole.

  • Whodakat

    Why is repairability part of being green? If the parts used are made of “green” materials, whats the big deal? So they use glue, who cares? They also provide a solvent to their repair folks, that helps eliminate the glue. So they use odd screw heads? Thats like saying this product is better for the environment because it uses a flat head screw instead of a Phillips. Its not like iFixit doesn’t sell anyone that wants one a driver that works with their screws. As a consumer, I am interested in whether or not the product I am buying can be recycled, or does it have hazardous materials inside. I could give a damn if iFixit isn’t happy because they can’t make a simple video showing how they can disassemble the device. And I am yet to see a device they CAN’T breakdown, so saying its “impossible” to upgrade the RAM, or replace the battery isn’t exactly true… its just not easy.

  • assb10yr

    If epeat doesn’t mean anything then why was everyone up in arms that apple decided to pull their products from epeat?

    Ifixit has a conflict of interest here. Just because they cannot make a few dollars repairing the new MacBook pros, they are complaining. Sour grapes!!

  • assb10yr

    iFixit to noFixit

  • mdbell26

    I assume they consider a product’s disassembly and upgradability a part of being “green.” If it is upgradable it’s less likely to end up being discarded in a landfill.

  • extra_medium

    If epeat doesn’t mean anything then why was everyone up in arms that apple decided to pull their products from epeat?

    They are saying it doesn’t mean anything now, since they gave the retina mbp its highest rating. According to those standards they say that pretty much any computer also qualifies…. rendering the standard meaningless.

  • technochick

    The real issue here is what is the definition of green. EPEAT basically defines it as any yahoo being able to break apart something with a standard screwdriver etc. the Retina MacBook didn’t fit that so they wouldn’t stamp it. apple felt they were ignoring other, more important in Apple’s view, definitions and withdrew their other machines. Yes later they recanted regarding those machines.

    But does it make the Retina any less green. Or just differently green. Who cares that you, Bubba or iFixIt can’t tear it apart if Apple sets up their own program to do it. And they might. It might be possible for they to recycle those rare earth metals, the casing etc. since the poit of that EPEAT rule was being able to remove batteries before dumping the rest in a shredder who cares who removes it

    And who really cares that you and iFixIt can screw with the computer in terms of it being green.

  • technochick

    If epeat doesn’t mean anything then why was everyone up in arms that apple decided to pull their products from epeat?

    Because several government offices etc decided to show their green support by passing laws they would only buy EPEAT Gold stuff. So they couldn’t buy macs anymore

  • technochick

    If epeat doesn’t mean anything then why was everyone up in arms that apple decided to pull their products from epeat?

    Because several government offices etc decided to show their green support by passing laws they would only buy EPEAT Gold stuff. So they couldn’t buy macs anymore

  • ?????? ???????

    This is ridiculous,the Rmbp IS RECYCLABLE i have no IDEA WHAT YOU PEOPLE have been reading but its not true, apple computers are some of the most recyclable computers that exist today,the only ONE reason it was taken off is because of the fact its not very upgradable by a NORMAL AVERAGE EVERYDAY PERSON who actually wants the laptop to be usable after,but for ppl who are just wanting to recycle the materials its much easier because they aren’t trying to keep the computer working, they just want the materials.Those are two completely different situations that need to be understood,but aren’t by such imbeciles.

  • Len Williams

    Here’s a spin based on iFixIt’s standards, not “green” standards. The statement that just about any computer can now be qualified as green is completely false. As I understand it, “green” is all about building non-hazardous products made with non-toxic materials that can be recycled, melted down and re-used without polluting the environment or causing workers to get sick.

    The idea that the glue on the battery is nearly impossible to remove is ludicrous. If you take the product to Apple for repair or replacement, they can do it easily. Using “ease of third party battery replacement” as your gage for how “green” a laptop is, is simply ridiculous. No company is held to higher “standards” than Apple. There is no law or directive forcing Apple to make products that others can alter. Apple is very green because they have eliminated cancer-causing chemicals and toxic elements (PCBs, brominated fire retardants, cadmium, etc.) that go into many of today’s consumer goods and make them dangerous to recycle. iFixIt is bleating about how hard it is to remove a battery–and that makes EPEAT meaningless? Puh-lease!

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a senior writer at Cult of Mac and co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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