Just when you thought Apple was really starting to go green—announcing plans to power its newest data center largely with renewable energy—the tech company took a big step backward last week, requesting that all of its products be removed from EPEAT, a registry of environmentally friendly electronics. What’s really strange is that Apple helped start EPEAT back in 2006, and now it’s just backing out without much of an explanation.
But while it’s unclear why Apple seems to be moving away from green devices, the unfailingly green city of San Francisco has taken notice. Officials announced earlier this week that city agencies will no longer be allowed to purchase Apple desktops and laptops, at least without going through an onerous waiver application process. (Other Apple devices, like the iPhone and iPad, weren’t certifiable by EPEAT to begin with). It’s a bold move by a city that’s done some exciting things for the sake of sustainability, although it’s largely symbolic—according to the Wall Street Journal, the city spent a paltry $45,579 on Apple computers in 2010. The company isn’t going to start crying over a little spilled milk.
Still, symbolism definitely has its value. Chris Geiger, the manager of green purchasing at San Francisco’s Department of Environment, thinks that other environmentally conscious cities will follow San Francisco’s lead, and what’s more, many universities have policies of only purchasing EPEAT-certified computers. If San Francisco’s decision is just the start of a trend, Apple could be rethinking its decision surprisingly soon.
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