Editorial: Green Apple a rotten one

By Mike on 3:15 pm

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Apple's products are no longer environmentally friendly. The company has withdrawn it's computer systems from EPEAT, a US government tool for measuring the greenness of products. As such, government departments will no longer be able to purchase Mac products.The fallout from this deal is expected to grow. Educational institutions fall under this law as well. This is the culmination of what many Apple fans have been saying for years. Despite claims to the contrary, Apple's products are not environmentally friendly. 

What triggered this withdrawal was the release of the Retina MacBook Pro. When iFixit analyzed the computer, came to an interesting conclusion. It couldn't be repaired at all. Not by the user, not by authorized repair shops. This was the most sealed system Apple has ever produced. The batteries were stuck to the case with super glue. They tried removing it but found they couldn't do so safely. Further tampering risked puncturing the battery, which could start a fire. Meaning that if the battery went, you were left with a $2100 paperweight.

The batteries on the Retina MBP are superglued to the chassis. Source: iFixit.com
This is what got EPEAT's panties in a bunch. They require electronics to be easy to disassemble for recycling. The lithium battery and aluminum chassis cannot be recycled together. Since they cannot come apart, they can't be recycled at all. This leaves the Retina MBP as the first disposable computer. Designed to sit in a landfill rather than be repaired, upgraded, or recycled. 

E-Waste landfill. Is this the final destination for Retina MBPs? Source: Greenpeace

It's the culmination of a long trend for Apple. Their systems have always been difficult to get into. This marks a new low in  poor design for a company that prides itself on environmental responsibility. This is made more ironic by Al "Inconvenient Truth" Gore being on their board of directors. Not only that, but China, the country that produces the MacBooks, hardly has a stellar environmental record. 

At least Apple has chosen to somewhat lessen the greenwashing on their products. However, the fact that users cannot upgrade or repair their systems is a troublesome trend. The last thing we need is more electronics cluttering up landfills.