San Francisco to stop buying Apple computers

LONDON – The city of San Francisco is to suspend buying Apple Inc. computers following the company’s decision to stop participation of the EPEAT system (used by government departments to determine the environmental impact of technology).

Officials from the San Francisco Department of Environment told the Wall Street Journal that Apple laptops and desktops “no longer qualify for purchase” and that they would be sending out letters in the next few weeks. The ban does not Apply to apple portable products such as the iPhone and iPad.

Apple recently removed its laptops and netbooks from the EPEAT (electronic product environmental assessment tool) system. Apple spokesperson Kristin Huguet has spoken out in defence of its decision in a statement to The Loop:

“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,” she said. “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.”

San Francisco’s CIO, Jon Walton, told the Wall Street Journal he would be backing the policy and no longer allow the purchase of Apple computers. Although agencies can apply for waivers through a “long” and “onerous” process.

It is unclear why Apple has removed itself from EPEAT, but it is rumoured that one of Apple’s newest products the MacBook Pro with Retina Display would not be eligible for certification from the scheme, because the computer’s battery is glued into its case — which makes recycling the parts difficult. Apple is also rumoured to be expanding the MacBook Pro Retina Display line and that this may be the future direction of most Apple laptops.

The glued-in battery in the MacBook Pro Retina Display is mooted to be behind Apple’s decision to withdraw from EPEAT.

The move is considered to be largely symbolic, and only around 500-700 of San Francisco’s city computers (about 1-to-2 per cent of the total) are made by Apple. A report in 2010 showed the city spent just US$45,579 on Apple computers, not a large amount considering Apple sold 13.89 million Macs in total that year.

But San Francisco is Apple’s home territory, which makes the situation awkward for the Cupertino-based company.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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