Apple’s Green Gambit Could Be Test Case for Others

If Apple’s stock price and popularity among consumers are any indication, the company can do little wrong (even its FoxConn problem in China appears to have blown over). But the company faces new criticism after it pulled its laptop and desktop computers from a voluntary registry of green electronics called EPEAT.

The trouble with that move: As pointed out by the CIO Journal within the Thursday, July 12, issue of The Wall Street Journal, San Francisco and other cities that have policies that state city funds can only be used to purchase EPEAT-certified desktops, laptops and monitors. San Francisco has already moved to stop purchases of the Apple products. In addition, dozens of universities have similar computer procurement policies.

In response, Apple defended the move, but gave no specific reason for the EPEAT snub, telling Bloomberg: “Apple takes a comprehensive approach to measuring our environmental impact, and all of our products meet the strictest energy-efficiency standards backed by the U.S. government. We also lead the industry by reporting each product’s greenhouse gas emissions on our Web site, and Apple products are superior in other important environmental areas not measured by EPEAT, such as removal of toxic materials.”
While Apple’s decision may cause a minute drop in sales of its laptops and desktops to government and academic worlds, the CSR ramifications may be greater—something other companies—tech or not—will be watching. Pulling out of an established green certification registry, or making other moves that may make an organization appear “less green,” has reputation damage written all over it. Whether this will be enough to significantly bruise Apple remains to be seen.

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