Ultrathin laptops deemed green, but some cry foul

For those looking to purchase an energy saving computer to be more environmentally conscious, ultrathin laptops may (or may not) be the way to go.

For those looking to purchase an energy saving computer to be more environmentally conscious, ultrathin laptops may (or may not) be the way to go.

The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT), a certification for environmentally-friendly electronics created by manufacturers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, declared in October that five ultrathin notebooks passed their requirements and could be considered green devices, including the MacBook Pro with Retina Display. TreeHugger reported that the agency deemed the devices sufficiently eco-friendly and easy enough to disassemble for recycling purposes.

However, some eco-savvy techies are crying foul over the latest EPEAT ruling, saying that the ultrathin laptops by their design are difficult to recycle and generally bad for the environment. Not only are the displays extremely difficult to repair, but the batteries are affixed to the machine using adhesive, which makes disassembly especially cumbersome. Technology repair website iFixit gave the initial incarnation of the Macbook Retina a score of one out of 10, with 10 meaning the computer is incredibly easy to take apart and repair TreeHugger reported on October 25.

EPEAT defended its position, saying its guidelines do not specifically say that parts cannot be glued together in order for the machine to be certified. Also, it only certifies the eco-friendliness of a computer, as it makes no indication of how easy or difficult it is to repair, TreeHugger reported on October 19.

“The standard also doesn’t forbid specific construction methods such as fasteners versus adhesives – it just requires products to be easy to disassemble for recycling,” EPEAT said in a statement, according to the October 19 article. “The test lab went through the disassembly process and reported that the products were all easy to disassemble with commonly available tools.”

Do you think ultrathin laptops should be certified as eco-friendly? Is PC power management important to you when buying a new computer, or do other concerns take precedent? Leave your comments below to let us know what you think about this budding controversy!

Matt Williams

A self-proclaimed ‘tech geek’, Matt has worked in technology for a decade and divides his time between blogging and working in IT. A huge New York Giants fan, when not watching football Matt gets his game on playing Call of Duty with his friends and other tech bloggers.