Apple went from red-faced to green last week.
Apparently San Francisco’s threat to stop purchasing Apple products forced the company on Friday to re-enter the environmentally conscious electronics registry known as EPEAT. The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool rating system is designed to promote environmentally friendly products and practices. A coalition of environmental groups, government agencies and manufacturers, including Apple, created EPEAT’s criteria.
When Apple announced last week that it would pull its desktop and laptop computers from the voluntary registry, the San Francisco Department of the Environment threatened to order all 50 city agencies to stop purchasing the company’s products, saying Apple no longer complied with city purchasing guidelines.
While San Francisco might not have the purchasing power to sway Apple, city officials figured other jurisdictions would take notice and follow suit.
On Friday, Apple abruptly changed its position.
“I recognize that this was a mistake,” said Bob Mansfield, senior vice president of hardware engineering.
In an open letter on Apple’s website, Mansfield said that starting Friday, all eligible Apple products would return to EPEAT.
The reversal “pleased” the Environment Department, said Executive Director Melanie Nutter. The company’s participation in the program “is consistent with their long-standing commitment to environmental stewardship,” Nutter said.
Apple claimed it had never planned to be less green. After pulling out of EPEAT, spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said the company had wanted to expand beyond the registry’s outdated system.
Mansfield called upon EPEAT to upgrade its standards to meet Apple’s environmental advancements.
Robert Frisbee, EPEAT’s CEO, said he welcomes Apple’s suggestions.
“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,” Frisbee said.
Apple’s relationship with EPEAT is “stronger as a result of this experience,” Mansfield said.