The broadband industry is doing all it can to reduce its carbon footprint because it is both the right thing to do and it just makes good business sense. This publication and its sister daily email has covered the topic in depth and, indeed, the Smart Energy Management Initiative developed by the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers is the lighthouse when it comes to crafting an environmentally friendly plan of action.
However, there is such a thing as taking green a little too far. Let’s look at San Francisco. As of just a few weeks ago, it will be impossible for San Francisco city agencies to buy any new equipment made by Apple, which is practically in the city’s back yard. Why? Because Apple recently opted out of registering its electronics with the global electronics ratings agency Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) that awards (or not) an environmental seal of approval, and city agencies only can purchase 100-percent EPEAT-certified gear.
According to EPEAT, electronic products need to be easy enough for the average consumer to dis-assemble. Anyone who has tried to take a Mac laptop apart (or to take the back off of a Rolex watch, for that matter) knows that this is no mean feat. ( Editor’s note: Just as we were going to press, Apple announced it was returning to the EPEAT fold due to pressure from its loyal equipment users.)
Another move by the city a few years ago ended up costing it a lucrative convention contract. In 2010, CTIA-The Wireless Association sued the city after its Board of Supervisors passed a law requiring handset makers and retailers to include a sticker on each unit detailing the amount of radiation emitted by each device.
According to CTIA, only the FCC can require such a label and consumers have ready access to such information from the manufacturer. And as part of its protest, CTIA, which had held its large annual gathering in the Bay Area many times, pulled all its business moving forward.
I was in San Francisco, covering CTIA’s last expo there two years ago. I interviewed the apparent leader of the small group of protesters who were marching with signs in front of the Moscone Center. I must admit it was hard to take seriously the designated spokesman who was swathed in aluminum foil.
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