This is actually pretty big news, and here’s why from Edward Moyer for CNET:
The U.S. government requires that 95 percent of its electronics bear the EPEAT seal of approval; large companies such as Ford and Kaiser Permanente require their CIOs to buy from EPEAT-certified firms; and many of the largest universities in the U.S. prefer to buy EPEAT-friendly gear, CIO Journal reports.
An issue that Apple will certainly have to deal with, either by creating their own green standard or making their recycling policies even more marketable/transparent than before. Either way has huge implications for the bottom line.
Update: An Apple representative responded to The Loop by Jim Dalrymple:
Apple takes a comprehensive approach to measuring our environmental impact and all of our products meet the strictest energy efficiency standards backed by the US government, Energy Star 5.2,” Apple representative Kristin Huguet, told The Loop. “We also lead the industry by reporting each product’s greenhouse gas emissions on our website, and Apple products are superior in other important environmental areas not measured by EPEAT, such as removal of toxic materials.
Jim goes on to talk about how Dell has zero projects on the Energy Star compliancy list, and that EPEAT themselves acknowledge that their standards are dated.
So apparently there is no need to wear tin-foil hats on this one, but the problem with governments and education is that when there is a standard, it is hard to not try and meet it. Either Apple’s statement will sway these two user groups to the firm’s side — causing them to vote off needing EPEAT, or the groups (more likely) will continue to adhere to EPEAT until changes are made.
Although Apple may right about moving away, it doesn’t change that they lose a big market of customers for now. Given that back to school purchasing is likely ramping up, any revert in standards by schools will take longer than the time it would take for either 1) EPEAT to revamp their standard and fit Apple back in or 2) Schools to abolish the need for it.
Update 2: Turns out, Bob Mansfield thinks EPEAT is important:
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. I recognize that this was a mistake. Starting today, all eligible Apple products are back on EPEAT.
The compromise that Apple makes is to work with EPEAT in order to adhere to their latest standards, but it is quite silly (and rare) to see Apple backpedal like they have here.