Apple admits mistake, says it's back in EPEAT

Bob Mansfield hints the return to EPEAT was in answer to customer complaints

In a rare admission of error, Apple said that it's back in EPEAT, the environmental standards group for electronics products that it withdrew from earlier this week.

"We've recently heard from many loyal Apple customers who were disappointed to learn that we had removed our products from the EPEAT rating system," read a letter from Bob Mansfield, Apple's senior vice president of hardware engineering, that was posted on the company's website. "I recognize that this was a mistake. Starting today, all eligible Apple products are back on EPEAT."

"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," the letter said.

Apple's withdrawal from the organization came as a surprise to many, especially because it had played a part in coming up with the EPEAT standards.

The move meant that Apple products could no longer be purchased by some organizations, including the city of San Francisco, which mandates EPEAT-approved computers for its staff. Across the U.S. federal government, purchasing standards call for at least 95 percent of computers to be up to EPEAT standards.

It also caused disappointment among many in Apple's core user base, the very group Mansfield referred to in his letter.

"I am very happy to announce that all of Apple's previously registered products, and a number of new products, are back on the EPEAT registry," wrote Robert Frisbee, EPEAT CEO, in a message on the organization's website. "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."

Apple's return to EPEAT was marked with the awarding of a "gold" rating to the company's 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. That represents EPEAT's highest rating.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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