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Friday, October 19th, 2012
Earlier this week, we noted that Apple’s Retina MacBook Pro and newest MacBook Air models had been among a number of ultrathin notebooks whose eligibility for inclusion on the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) registry had been verified. The approval came with some clarifications of the EPEAT standards that were criticized by some, including iFixit‘s Kyle Wiens, as watering down the requirements for inclusion.
EPEAT has now posted a defense of its actions, noting that its review committee was simply following the guidelines as they are written. The group acknowledges some of the concerns, but notes that those issues should be raised in the forthcoming update to the standards and not as criticism of the application of the standards as they are currently written.
Regarding upgrade capability, the criteria specifically state that products may be upgraded or extended “by a high performance serial bus (IEEE Std 1394™ [B4]) or Universal Serial Bus (USB)”. Regardless of opinions about whether or not that is appropriate or acceptable language, the hard fact is that EPEAT has no authority to ‘flunk’ products if they meet the explicit terms of the standard.
Regarding disassembly: The criteria under discussion are located in the section of the standard that addresses Design for End of Life – that is, design for effective recycling. The criteria investigated are not in any way aimed at refurbishment or repair. Again, people may think that there should be more in the standard about disassembly for repair and refurbishment – and we welcome their views – but these criteria do not apply to that topic.
The group goes on to note that EPEAT standards are developed through an open process that involves stakeholders from a number of sides…
Full article here
Friday, October 19th, 2012
The EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool), a method for consumers to evaluate the effect of a product on the environment, hits back at criticisms that it “caved in to Apple” by awarding the MacBook Pro with Retina display a gold rating.
In an email, EPEAT’s director of outreach and communications Sarah O’Brien pointed out that the disassembly criteria used in the testing or products were for recycling or shredding, not for upgrade capability, so the inclusion of proprietary pentalobe screws – screws which need a special tool to undo them — makes no difference to the rating awarded a product.
Also, O’Brien makes it clear that the testing criteria used doesn’t prescribe or forbid specific construction methods such as fasteners versus adhesives.
“The test lab went through the process and reported that the products were all easy to disassemble with commonly available tools,” claims O’Brien.
Full article here
Friday, October 12th, 2012
Green electronics rating system confirms that all products tested met rigorous environmental criteria
Portland, OR, October 12, 2012 — EPEAT today released the results of a verification process that tested five different “ultra-thin” notebooks to ascertain their conformance with the green rating system’s stringent requirements. These products had come under close scrutiny in public discussions this past summer. Products from Apple, Lenovo, Samsung and Toshiba were investigated in this verification process. All products investigated met the requirements of the criteria reviewed.
“EPEAT is committed to foster greener electronics and to give purchasers the tools to evaluate green claims,” said Robert Frisbee, CEO of EPEAT. “The system’s rigorous environmental assessment processes result from a powerful stakeholder collaboration that includes purchasers, environmental advocates, government, manufacturer, recycler and academic participants. This latest series of stringent investigations demonstrates the power of that approach.”
The findings released today are the culmination of a lengthy review of a number of specific criteria – and of a broad array of notebook products registered in the EPEAT system. Specific areas of concern addressed included whether products could be upgraded, if tools were commonly available to accomplish upgrades, and whether materials of concern including batteries could be easily removed from ultrathin products.
To ensure the integrity of the registry, EPEAT undertook a number of fundamental inquiries. These included:
- a request for formal clarification of the standard requirements from the independent Product Verification Committee (PVC) – a group of experts on electronics and environmental issues who provide interpretation of conformity requirements and rule on verification findings
- a comprehensive review of publicly available technical information for notebook products in the EPEAT registry.
- an independent verification investigation for those products where public information did not resolve questions of potential nonconformance.
For the verification investigation, EPEAT contracted with a technical test lab to independently purchase these devices on the open market, and disassemble them according to the instructions provided.
Following their disassembly investigation, the test lab recommended that all the products be found to satisfy EPEAT requirements. After reviewing the data and recommendations provided by the lab, the PVC found all investigated products to be in conformance with EPEAT criteria, clearing the way for all the products investigated to remain on the EPEAT registry. Additional details of the investigation may be found below.
The information garnered through these investigations will help stakeholders currently engaged in updating the PC/Display standard to ensure that the criteria address the market direction and design innovations leading toward thinner, lighter products.
* * *
Clarification of Standard Requirements
The EPEAT PVC determined that, based on the clear wording of the relevant criteria, products could be considered upgradable if they contained an externally-accessible port through which additional capacity could be supplied to the registered product (or if they could be upgraded through physical replacement of parts).
The PVC also ruled that tools required for disassembly or upgrade of registered products are deemed ‘commonly available’ if they can be purchased by any individual or business on the open market, are not proprietary and do not require agreements between the buyer and seller.
The PVC declined to specify precise parameters for what constitutes “easy and safe” disassembly or removal of components, because they noted such terms could encompass different details depending on the specifics of the product class in question and must be demonstrated in action.
Comprehensive Review and Surveillance
EPEAT staff performed a detailed surveillance review of all small and light products registered in the system. This review identified specific types of ultrathin construction that seemed most likely to encounter issues meeting the criteria of concern. This eliminated the majority of products under review, and left five products from four manufacturers with significant unresolved questions relating to conformance.
Investigation of the remaining five products was conducted through a formal verification investigation. In keeping with EPEAT’s standard approach, manufacturers subject to investigation were not notified in advance, and investigation was based on product registrations prior to the verification notification. (For more about verification in EPEAT, see http://www.epeat.net/learn-more/verification/)
EPEAT requested standard disassembly instructions from each manufacturer for the products in question, then commissioned a technical test lab to independently purchase these devices on the open market, and disassemble them according to the instructions provided. Lab personnel were not trained recycling professionals, so they could be expected to provide more universally applicable data regarding questions of time and ease of disassembly than would a demonstration by a recycler.
The lab disassembled each of the purchased products with full documentation of each disassembly process, including its overall duration. Time for total disassembly of each of the products was under 20 minutes in all cases; for the removal of batteries the time required was between 30 seconds and 2 minutes. As noted above, these times probably exceed what a skilled recycler would require. Given their findings, the lab recommended that all products be found in conformance with EPEAT requirements.
Friday, October 5th, 2012
EPEAT Champion the Super-efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment (SEAD) Initiative, Announces Global Efficiency Medal Winners
The SEAD Initiative’s Global Efficiency Medal Competition recognizes Samsung and LG for producing the most energy efficient flat-panel televisions in the world. Spurring innovation among manufacturers, the first competition identifies the most efficient flat-panel TVs in the world — in three different sizes — and recognizes one TV with the most efficient emerging technology globally.
SEAD Global Efficiency Medals are awarded to the most energy efficient, commercially available TVs globally:
- Samsung UN26EH4000F for small-size TVs (less than 29 inches) = 22W on power mode
- Samsung UE40EH5000W UN40EH5000F for medium-size TVs (29 to less than 42 inches) = 44W on power mode
- LG 47LM670S for large-size TVs (greater than 42 inches) = 43W on power mode
SEAD will host an international awards ceremony in connection with the Clean Energy Ministerial meeting in early 2013 to distinguish the international winning product models. SEAD member governments are working with manufacturers, retailers, and other energy efficiency stakeholders to make it easy for consumers to identify these award winning products.
Learn more at superefficient.org
Thursday, October 4th, 2012
Check out this new video from Dell, discussing the ease in which EPEAT allows Dell to harmonize around a single green design standard that considers the whole life cycle of electronics, while allowing flexibility to offer innovative green features that customers value.
“The single most important thing EPEAT does for customers is give them confidence Confidence they’re making a choice which represents the best interest of the planet, as well as the best product that they can buy”
- Robert Frisbee, CEO, EPEAT
Monday, August 13th, 2012
Retail giant Office Depot is downsizing stores across the United States, as part of its strategy to reduce energy consumption and to highlight sustainable products that might be of interest to green-minded consumers.
The company’s store in Portland, Oregon, is the latest to get one of these makeovers under the experiment — and it is also the first store to feature a new green labeling brand from EPEAT, which rates computers and other technologies for a number of factors such as energy efficiency, materials choices and end-of-life disposal strategy.
That brand, called EcoSense, is the first consumer version of the EPEAT methodology used by many larger companies and government agencies to evaluate technology for environmental credentials. The rating system covers desktop computers, integrated systems, workstations, monitors, laptops and (in the near future) printers, copiers and televisions. Full story
Thursday, August 2nd, 2012
Technology is an essential part of daily life, from cell phones to televisions, music players to laptops. Yet our reliance on electronics also has a significant impact on the environment. But don’t despair! There are countless ways to green up your gadgetry–or even use your gadgets for environmental causes–and we have information tips, guides, fix-it solutions and facts all in one place to help you go green with your technology. Full article here.
Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
Before Apple made headlines by deciding to pull its products from EPEAT (and then reversed that decisions days later), you’d probably never heard of the Electronics Product Environmental Assessment Tool. That’s because the organization, while focused on making electronics more environmentally friendly, has been mostly concerned with evaluating the manufacturers and materials associated with the computers, printers, and other equipment we use every day.
In just a few days, however, EPEAT will launch its first tool designed specifically for you, the consumer. On July 31st, the organization will unveil its new EcoSense labeling system, a way for customers to judge the environmental impact of common electronics at a glance. The global launch will occur at Portland’s Office Depot, which has recently been remodeled to feature a smaller, more sustainable design. Full article
Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
Congratulations to EPEAT Board member Mike Biddle of MBA Polymers, who is one of the recipients of the 2012 Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Development!
The Gothenburg award committee pointed to Dr Biddle’s combination of “deep technical expertise and entrepreneurial brilliance with a drive to close the loop,” and noted that he “inspires other entrepreneurs to develop innovative hi-tech solutions in the waste sector.”
Past recipients include former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (2011); Theo Colborn (2008); Al Gore (2007); and the former Prime Minister of Norway and Director General of WHO, Gro Harlem Brundtland (2002).
See the full award announcement here.
Monday, June 18th, 2012
Becoming a green company can boost your sales – and it’s a lot easier to accomplish than you think.
A recent Harris Interactive survey conducted for Tork, a maker of hygiene products, found that 82 percent of American adults claim to be well informed about companies and brands with a strong track record for sustainability.
What’s more, 80 percent of those consumers let that knowledge guide their purchasing decisions, so why pass up an opportunity to appeal to so many potential customers?
A good way to start establishing your green cred is to cut your energy use, a cost-savings strategy that can also help improve your company’s bottom line. One way to get started on this is to buy energy-efficient PCs and other electronics, which is easier than you think thanks to the federal EPEAT registry. You can also use energy management settings in Windows 7 and Mac operating systems to save even more energy.
And move basic applications like email, data backup and accounting to cloud-based services to save a bundle on server and power costs.
Adapted from A Small Business Guide to Green IT at Small Business Computing.