Apple and Other Tech Companies Accused of 'Weakening' Green Electronics Standards

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Aug 3, 2017.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    In a new 45 page report by Mark Schaffer of, Apple, Sony, and other tech industry companies have been targeted as the reason behind lagging green electronics standards in the United States, which are meant to establish an overall set of environmental leadership specifications for the design, usage, and end-of-life phases of electronic devices.

    According to, Apple and companies like it consistently output products with extremely low repairability scores, and often fail to meet quality green electronics standards.


    The report said that this is mostly because these tech companies "hold so many positions" on the boards of green electronics standards that they can vote and resist changes they see as potentially unfavorable for their product development. This has caused the standards to become "increasingly ineffectual," making them hard to update and unable to keep up with the fast-paced advancements in the technology that they are written for.
    In the report, looks at the repair/reuse criteria included in the UL 110 standard for cell phones, which was approved in early 2017 and "contains some repair criteria and optional requirements for battery removability without tools." Apple and Samsung were able to claim the highest "gold" ratings for the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S8 right off the bat when the standard went live in July, which the report called "troubling." explained that a "properly developed" standard should see newly claimed devices barely able to achieve a lower "bronze" rating, and have to work their way up the standard.

    Under a section called "manufacturers oppose leadership standards," the report delves more into Apple's refusal to comply with the support of standardized tools that could be used to disassemble their products. Despite Apple's voting against such a rule, it's said that enough companies decided to vote in favor of this section of UL 110.
    Still, the UL 110 standard's various sections -- including end-of-life, reuse, and recycle -- are described as "watered down" and "neutered" to the point that device makers don't have to alter the course of EOL practices that they've been following in previous years. The report then lists a few common arguments manufacturers have given for their actions, including public safety concerns if at-home repair was widely supported, easily accessible authorized repair centers, and more, all of which refutes.

    Apple has long been a proponent of environmental protection and action in its position as one of the biggest device makers on the planet. This past April, the company released its 2017 Environmental Responsibility Report and announced its goal to set up a "closed-loop supply chain," which would drastically reduce global electronics waste by building new Apple products using only recycled materials, including old Apple products.

    Article Link: Apple and Other Tech Companies Accused of 'Weakening' Green Electronics Standards
  2. Andres Cantu macrumors 68030

    Andres Cantu

    May 31, 2015
    Rio Grande Valley in South Texas
    Yeah, and let's just ignore everything Apple does that helps the environment...
  3. Michaelgtrusa macrumors 604

    Oct 13, 2008
    I will read this but perhaps they mean toxic materials in other nations.
  4. filmantopia macrumors 6502a


    Feb 5, 2010
    They don't really "help" the environment. They strive to minimize their damage to it. That said, this isn't ignoring Apple's efforts, it's just citing an area where they're falling short.
  5. Sandstorm macrumors 6502a


    Sep 27, 2011
    Riga, Latvia
    And how exactly they "help" the environment? They obviously try (more than most) to harm less and be more "neutral", but that is the bare minimum every entity should do (in a perfect world, not run by greedy corporations).
  6. now i see it macrumors 68030

    Jan 2, 2002
    An electronics company doesn't become the most valuable in the world by manufacturing repairable products that last for decades. The motto is disposable & planned obsolescence. Turn em & burn em. To the land fill it goes (after your extended warranty expires).
  7. JRobinsonJr macrumors 6502a

    Aug 20, 2015
    Arlington, Texas
    FWIW, in a 'perfect world' even the 'greedy corporations' would be driven to minimize damages... which should translate into reduced costs.

    As a financial ultra-conservative, I am a big believer in the free market and can point to virtually all governmental interference as having negative consequence. Some, however, are absolutely necessary. As such, I would support financial incentives / disincentives associated with environmental impact. We should all be good stewards of our home.
  8. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    Arguably, the solution for environmental friendliness is the disappearance of the human race (and even that would have some negative impact, as many species have adapted to our existence). Anything less than that is a compromise, based on our particular self-interests.

    While I agree that repairability can extend the life of an item, it does not guarantee extended life. Many of Apple's manufacturing practices, like the use of adhesives, reduce the need for repair (although they may also make repair more difficult when repair is necessary). Considering the number of people who will discard rather than repair (even when repair is possible and practical), extended durability can have a substantial, positive environmental impact.

    It's a far more nuanced situation than the repair advocates would like us to believe.
  9. Digitalclips macrumors 65816

    Mar 16, 2006
    Sarasota, Florida
    All 'being more repairable' would do is extend the time line slightly. Of course it would enrich the repair industry and I can see why he is miffed at Apple (and let's not forget the car industry, looked under the hood of a modern car recently?). In the long run the number of Macs and other hard to repair Apple products reaching their end of days would remain the same, simply at a later date maybe. The best solution would be that Apple takes back all their products that are dead and recycles them and I was under the impression they offer that or something like that already don't they?
  10. kdarling, Aug 3, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2017

    kdarling macrumors P6


    Jun 9, 2007
    First university coding class = 47 years ago
    Yes. Some of us remember back in 2012 when Apple threatened to drop its relationship with the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) registry because their glued together laptops were given low ratings.

    (They backed off after a public outcry, and a belated realization that government programs required the rating.)

    Perhaps not so surprisingly, EPEAT later changed their recyclability rating rules after Apple agreed to rejoin, and suddenly gave most of Apple's products a "gold star" rating... even though nothing much had changed.

    No doubt Samsung has similar clout in Korea, and ditto for Chinese makers in China.
  11. Jakewilk macrumors member

    Jul 21, 2014
    Who’s to say the more repairability would even be a good thing for the planet? If I could repair my own circuit boards or batteries at home then I would most certainly throw the old parts in the trash... I don’t have any clue where to put my E-waste. But the difference is that repair places do! If Apple sticks with the current model but requires all certified Apple repair places to recycle E-waste then it would do a whole lot more for the environment than redesigning tech to be more repairable yet bulkier.
  12. johannnn macrumors 65816


    Nov 20, 2009
    I don't want repairable products, I want thin products.
  13. Sedulous macrumors 68020


    Dec 10, 2002
    I don't think it is all that difficult to replace battery in current iPhones. Yeah, it is less serviceable than externally clipped in designs, but those also come with sacrifices.
  14. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    The "government is only good when it does what I want it to do" theory. Good self-governance requires a willingness to compromise - give the other guy some of what he wants, the other guy gives me some of what I want. The willingness to accept that "the public good" is as meaningful as "personal good."

    If you believe maximizing profit delivers the greatest good, then you you have to consider the purposes to which those profits are then applied. All too often, it results in inefficiently-used surpluses. Profligate waste on the part of those who have more than they can possibly use, resources siloed in ways that produce nearly nothing, the asset inflation that comes from too much money chasing too few good ideas.... Instead of owning the resources (tax revenue) outright, government is forced to borrow from those who possess the surplus. That is profitable for those who hold the profits, unprofitable for the rest of society.

    One problem I see with the anti-government drumbeat is that it paints all of governance with the same, negative brush. You can't expect nuance from an absolutist ideology. There are too few ultra-conservatives who believe the environment is worthy of even financial incentive. They rightfully point to the added cost of those incentives, and decry it as another form of government waste. The environment is a long-term investment with a slow payback, and too few investors invest for the long term.

    It doesn't matter whether it's ultra-left or ultra-right. If we leave all decision making to the private interests that control capital, they will do what is best for their own self-interest. If we leave all decision making to public interests, private interests may be trampled for "the greater good." Government of the people, by the people, and for the people requires the cooperation of all the people.
  15. JRobinsonJr macrumors 6502a

    Aug 20, 2015
    Arlington, Texas
    Wow. You sure tried to read-between-the-lines and totally missed the mark.

    It's not about what I want (or don't want). It's about the continuous expansion of government into the lives of people who are, or should be, fully capable of governing themselves.

    I'm also not anti-government. At all.

    For a concrete example of my personal perspective on the environment, let's look at agriculture. For most of mankind's existence, farming was controlled by factors including (1) location, (2) need, and (3) responsible land usage. That meant farmers would focus on growing crops appropriate for that location, were in need by either the farmer or the larger community, and said farmer would rotate crops to take good care of the land. Now? Location certainly plays a roll, but crops are primarily determined by a number of factors including market forecasts plus what the government is willing to subsidize, and chemicals are used to force growth rather than leveraging crop rotation as a means to good land management.

    Question for you: does the government help in this case? What if there were no subsidies? What if, instead, government at all levels stayed out of the farming decisions and left crop decisions to the farmers. Being interested in their own financial well-being, they could then choose between low-yield/high-profit versus high-yield/low-profit... or anything in between. Over time things would balance out to a true supply and demand market.

    Sure... it's a simplified scenario, but should be indicative of the underlying issue as I see it. Also, I fully acknowledge that corporations play their own part in the tug-of-war to control our purchases.

    Sometimes government is the solution. Sometimes government is the problem. Many times it simply doesn't make a difference (except for costing $). The hard part is knowing which road to take and when to turn around. Too often our elected 'representatives' don't actually represent 'we the people'.
  16. Avieshek Suspended


    Dec 7, 2013
  17. geogecko macrumors newbie

    Sep 22, 2008
    I could see their point a couple of years ago, especially about being able to replace the battery easily, but in my opinion, when you design small devices for waterproofing, there isn’t much you can do for repairability when the device must be covered in potting or other type solutions to keep water out. Generally a gasket or seal is not adequate enough, if you want a truly waterproof device.
  18. coolfactor macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2002
    Vancouver, BC CANADA
    You know that's not true. Apple was even accepting competitor electronics through its recycling programs.
  19. Rogifan macrumors Core


    Nov 14, 2011
    So Apple should only release new iPhones every decade (technology advances be dammed)? My 74 year old mother uses an original iPad mini every day no problems. People wanting the latest and greatest technology is not planned obsolescence.
  20. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    Is there a difference between an "incentive" to protect the environment, and a "subsidy" with a similar goal?

    There's plenty wrong with agricultural policy, but I don't think leaving it all to the wisdom of the farmer is the solution, either. Just like people from all walks of life, farmers will not always do what's wise. They may favor short-term gain, especially if business hasn't been that good. "Should I let that field go fallow this year, or can I plant something that will help me turn a profit?" They may exhaust the soil, expecting they'll move on/retire/fail anyway in several more years. They'll look at the crop that was so profitable for their neighbor last year, plant the same this year, and find all their neighbors have done the same, turning a profitable niche crop into an unprofitable glut.

    If society at large is dependent on the food produced by a small portion of the population, to what degree should society step aside in favor of another experiment in Social Darwinism? One problem with such experiments is, unlike nature, where failure leads to extinction, in society, we may be left with impoverished, broken people who exact a price on the rest of society. Either the society embraces this fact, and cares adequately for the losers (redistributing some of the "efficient" winners' gains), or we embrace a Dickensian dystopia. "Winner takes all" is not a viable way to run a society, even a feudal society.

    Leaving things to the "wisdom of the individual" is not always beneficial. While self-government is rooted on that very principle, self-governments immediately have to come to grips with the fact that even wise people can do dumb things, or act in ways contrary to their long term self-interest. The parable of the Grasshopper and the Ant wouldn't exist if everyone was an ant. In the extreme, Anarchism holds that no government is required - individuals will naturally do the right thing. If only I could be so optimistic. The strong/intelligent are in a position to take advantage of the less-strong/less-intelligent, and not all have the self-discipline to refrain from opportunistic behavior.
  21. sd70mac macrumors member


    Jul 22, 2015
    There's definitely room for improvement here.
  22. MH01 Suspended


    Feb 11, 2008
    Nothing apple nor any other company does , helps the environment, it's just PR BS how they minimise damage. The bigger the company the more damage they do to the environment.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 3, 2017 ---
    Nice spin. Though if you want to remain with your 74 year old mother example, as soon as anything goes wrong with that iPad, there is no repair, its replace. Not to mention software updates that slow it down that you want to update . That is planned obsolescence.

    To this day my iPad 2 and iPhone 4 are fantastic products ruined by the latest version of the software apple deemed to suitable without the ability to go back to a previous version - horrible performance - forced to update - planned obsolescence ;)

    Apples latest and greatest, I have no interest in, though there is not repair option for me, as the products I have , are made to thrown away and not repaired! Very poor. My 2009 iMac and 17" MacBook Pro would have been at the dump currently had they been new models. Tim wants your money ... and is making products that are planned obsolescence
    --- Post Merged, Aug 3, 2017 ---
    The display is glued on....... while it's possible , it's a difficult task.

    Less serviceable ? It's non serviceable - as clearly stated by apple
  23. Nunyabinez macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2010
    Provo, UT
    Repairability is a Red Hering. You could use glue and mercury and lead all you want if the manufacturer takes the product back and has a method for safely disposing of those things.

    These critics look at an issue in isolation. What is Apple's ultimate impact on the environment? Apple will take back your old tech and safely dispose of it, so how does a non-replaceable battery hurt? Only if Apple is putting this stuff into landfills, which of course they are not.
  24. apolloa macrumors G4

    Oct 21, 2008
    Time, because it rules EVERYTHING!
    My sister has a first gem Mini too, uses it all the time and she can more then afford a new one and works in a technical role. So I agree with this.
    Just look after your device, however the battery issue is different and in the case of the iPhone 7, you will risk losing the waterproofing to replace the battery :(

    And when people upgrade they do tend to sell on their old devices and not bin them.
  25. avonord macrumors regular

    Mar 8, 2007
    I would argue that Apple products may not be very easily reparable, they are the most reliable (thus long life) and has the highest resale value (thus most repaired and resold/reused)

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