As more organizations worldwide come to see the value of investing in eco-friendlier hardware, PC vendors are jockeying for the right to lay claim to the greenest wares. Proving a central weapon in this battle is the EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) registry. Plenty of companies are finding the tool invaluable for finding green machines that meet their particular needs. The problem is, some vendors -- intentionally or otherwise -- might be abusing the system to make themselves and their wares look greener.
EPEAT is a free tool that helps consumers compare computers and monitors based on their environmental impact. In order to make it into the registry and earn a rating of Bronze, a monitor or computer must meet 23 required criteria. Products that meet a certain percentage of the 28 optional criteria can earn the better rating of Silver -- or the coveted Gold.
Earlier this month, Apple registered 10 MacBooks in the EPEAT registry. All are Gold rated. Two meet 21 of the optional criteria; the other eight meet 22 of the optional criteria. This gave Apple a total of 11 Gold-rated MacBooks -- and the chutzpah to claim that the MacBook line is "the world's greenest family of notebooks."
In turn, Dell (which aspires to be "the greenest technology company on the planet") accused Apple of being "misleading" in its advertising of the MacBook. In response, the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus investigated the complaint. Ultimately, NAD opined that Apple should modify its "world's greenest family of notebooks" claim "to make clearer that the basis of comparison is between all MacBooks to all notebooks made by a given competitor" and to "avoid the reference to 'world's greenest' given the potential for overstatement."
NAD did pay Apple is compliment, however: "While other manufacturers may have subcategories of lines with similar ratings, none has comparable high ratings for all of the notebooks it produces."
However, NAD did note that notebooks, such as the Toshiba Protege, "have a higher ['greener'] EPEAT rating than MacBooks."
Straight to the source
Frankly, I found NAD's opinion rather confusing, so decided to go straight to the source: the EPEAT registry. There I discovered some interesting findings that arguably contradict Apple's claim.