Jul 182012

Apple’s had a weird couple of weeks. First it flipped the bird to EPEAT by pulling all of its previous submissions – which had earned its Gold rating – from consideration, ostensibly because of the design of the new Retina MacBook Pro and its glued-in battery was incompatible with EPEAT’s recyclability standard. Then Apple’s Bob “Meatloaf” Mansfield said “my bad” and re-submitted all of Apple’s kit – including the RMBP – to EPEAT. For their part, EPEAT said it’d take a look at new thinner devices like the ones being created by Apple (and copied by everyone else), hinting that maybe their standard could use a shave and a haircut.

When Apple first pulled out of EPEAT, the level of righteous indignation punctured a hole in space-time. Apple hates the environment! Then Mansfield owned up to jumping the gun (probably after uttering “fuck it – I’m out of here anyway”). We’ll leave it up to EPEAT to decide if Apple’s latest Pro laptop is worthy of the Gold rating hanging from the metaphorical necks of the rest of their lineup. Won’t we?

Of course we won’t. Because included in the “we” are a bunch of jackasses who either won’t let go of their 5 minutes of Apple news glow or who want a piece of their own sweet, sweet Apple-bashing attention. Fortunately for all of us, Chris Forseman at Ars has gotten opinions about how recyclable the RMBP’s battery is from people who are actually going to recycle them. That’s journalism, people.

First we get to hear from the iFixit bunch (yes, again), whose business model depends in large part on being able to take apart your kit yourself, so you know when they bitch about replacing the battery for purposes of recycling, a little piece of their business (along with a kitten) dies. Our next contestant is Barbara Kyle, from the Electronics Take Back Coalition (ETBC). She thinks the RMBP shouldn’t get any EPEAT rating. Why? Because the battery can’t be removed with simple tools. How does she know this? From iFixit, of course.

The best part of the piece – and kudos to Foresman for culling this – is that recycling entities said they’d have no trouble at all extracting the battery from Apple’s new machine. I think their opinion may count for something because they actually do the recycling. Let’s hear from one of them: this is ECS Refining CEO Jim Taggart, who apparently employs people that can pull a battery from a housing without mangling it like iBrokeit did. Here he is speaking in broad terms about Apple products and their recycled value:

Typical Apple devices last about twice as long as other devices, and users use them much longer. To me that’s ‘philosophically’ better than having to recycle it in the first place. Whether it takes one minute or two minutes to separate the battery makes little difference in the end. If gluing it in makes it last twice as long, that’s an overall plus than if it falls out when you take it apart.

Specific to the battery, neither ECS Refining nor Sims Recycling Solutions America (the recycler that is under contract by Apple for their kit) think the battery will pose any issue. Of course iFixit and their new best friend from ETBC disagree about how big an issue that is. Fortunately for the hecklers, neither will be involved in the actual reclamation process – you know – the thing EPEAT is concerned with. We’ve heard (and heard and heard) from iFixit. Now we’ve heard from the people who will actually be responsible for recycling Apple’s RMBP and they don’t agree with you. I’m sure that won’t stop iFixit and their tag-alongs from sounding off on an issue they’ll have nothing to do with, but when has being faced with an obvious truth ever discouraged Apple-bashers?

 Posted by at 11:05 pm
Jul 182012

There’s a saying in the Beltway that the shortest distance ever calculated is that which exists between Chuck Schumer and a news camera. People who read me know I don’t care for Schumer. He’s a grandstanding demagogue who panders to the least common denominator on sound byte issues designed to maximize his exposure. Imagine the surprise waiting for me in my RSS feed this morning. After immediately checking outside for signs of what I thought was surely the apocalypse, I’m ready to declare that Chuck Schumer is on the right side of an issue.

The issue is one of my personal bugaboos: the Department of Justice’s looming case against Apple and three publishers for allegedly colluding to fix the prices of ebooks. On its face, the case is ridiculous. After declaring unequivocally that it was not in the wrong, Apple proceeded to wipe its ass with the DoJ’s filing, dismantling their accusations point by point. Because I’ve already broken my Schumer embargo, I guess it’s OK to quote him on the issue. From the folks at paidContent:

The administration needs to reassess its prosecution priorities. Justice Department officials currently have comprehensive guidelines in place to determine when they should challenge mergers, but they have no such guidelines for non-merger investigations. It’s time to come up with some.

Schumer also said “Rarely have I seen a suit that so ill serves the interests of the consumer”, which, as blindingly obvious as it is, is still nice to hear from someone people listen to.

I’m hoping that this represents a new direction for Schumer and not some blind squirrel nut that he just happened upon because it’s a popular issue. Who am I kidding – of course that’s his motivation. Still, I’ll take it.

 Posted by at 9:53 am
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