Apple Goes Off Green

Apple has abruptly announced that it is withdrawing from a green computer certification scheme prompting San Francisco city authorities to drop its products.

The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) certifies desktops, laptops and monitors against environmental criteria agreed by the industry and supported by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The 1000-plus products from over 300 manufacturers registered with the scheme are more energy efficient, easier to upgrade and recycle and contain lower levels of heavy metals like cadmium, lead and mercury.

While the scheme only currently covers desktops, laptops and monitors, the inclusion of TVs, printers and servers is expected soon. There are, however, no explicit plans yet to add smartphones or tablet computers like Apple’s iPad.

Apple’s decision to withdraw from EPEAT is all the more surprising because it was one of the companies originally involved in drawing up the rating criteria and has come in for increasing criticism in recent times over its environmental profile.

Energy Efficiency News

As to why, one tech reporter thinks it has to do with up coming offerings in which batteries are fused to frames, making recycling not meet common-sense guidlines.  e.g. needing heat-guns to get them out.  For more, listen to Newsy

Nice going Apple.  You have plenty of workers in China.  These un-recyclable devices can be sent to their poor cousins and smashed apart like other US cast-off electronics.  What’s that called?  Externalized expenses?

China Labor Awakening

Just as young people in Libya and Egypt, finding examples of self-determination outside their own country, have risen in revolt, so it seems that workers in China are realizing that eat-sleep-work has other options.  The worker need not simply bow and say yes to working conditions, pay-rates, safety, or hours.  Unions are of course banned, as many Corporatists in the US would like them to be, but spontaneous risings and minimalist, hidden, organizing have begun to be visible in recent months.

The latest to hit the news couriers is in southern China at a Taiwan owned manufacturing plant, Foxconn, for huge, and hugely popular US gadgets — the iPhone and the X Box.

CNN reported that a mass suicide had been threatened. 

Microsoft is investigating a report that workers at a Chinese plant that manufactures its Xbox game systems have threatened mass suicide in a pay dispute, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the company’s Hong Kong office.

CNN has not been able to confirm details of the dispute, but Foxconn, the plant owner, and Microsoft did respond to inquiries.

Bloomberg reported, apparently the same unrest, without going to the suicide claim.  Though there was some thought it was over working conditions, what appears in all reports is worker unhappiness at transfers being offerred (imposed?), and resistance to being moved.  Pretty small potatoes it might seem, but indicative of how fraught conditions are, and the growing willingness to stand up and be counted, by semi-skilled workers where a generation ago everyone bowed and accepted the whip on the back.

On the U.S. side Apple has announced its very belated joining of the Fair Labor Association.

Eye on the game.  It’s not over yet