But having extricated itself from one environmental cow pie, the company may have stepped right into another.
Here's what happened.
On Friday, as promised in the letter, the company put "all eligible Apple products" back on the Green Electronics Council's registry -- giving them the Gold label that indicates they are okay for purchase by the schools and government agencies that are required to buy only EPEAT-approved computers.
But Apple went one step further. It also gave Gold labels to all four models of its new MacBook Pro with Retina display -- devices whose batteries are famously affixed to their aluminum frames with industrial strength glue so powerful that the disassembly experts at iFixit couldn't remove them without "leaking hazardous goo all over."
The Electronics TakeBack Coalition -- a pro-recycling group whose members range from the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition to the Environmental Defense Fund -- was quick to spot the sleight of hand.
"We seriously doubt that these Mac Books should qualify for EPEAT at any level," wrote Barbara Kyle, the ETBC's National Coordinator, on the organization's website, "because we think they flunk two required criteria in the 'Design for End of Life' section of the standard. They are:
So how did the new MacBooks get those Gold label ratings?
Kyle explains: "It's important to understand that the manufacturers grade themselves against the EPEAT criteria first, and then EPEAT conducts a review of this grading. That EPEAT review has not yet occurred. They can require the manufacturers to remove any product from the registry if it is not found to conform to the IEEE standard."
She adds: "Apple is often a design leader in electronics, but they really blew it here."
Meanwhile, the folks at Investor Village's AAPL Sanity board have shed some light on the timing Apple's initial withdrawl from EPEAT. It turns out that there's an annual fee for getting on the registry and a separate fee for each listed product. These fees are not insubstantial. In Apple's case they come to several million dollars a year, and they came due on July 1.
Participation in key IEEE study groups preceded San Francisco's decision to stop buying Macs
FORTUNE -- Apple's (AAPL) withdrawal of its entire product line -- including 39 green-certified desktops, notebooks and monitors -- from the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool program has finally created a kerfuffle serious enough to stir the company's public relations department into action.
A few hours after CIO Journal reported that San Francisco planned to stop buying Apple products because they no MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jul 11, 2012 6:51 AM ET
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