While San Francisco, near the company's home in Cupertino, loudly proclaims it's quitting Apple, speculation abounds that the company may have just banned itself from all government contracts, both inside and outside the U.S.
The company's PR response is that it's greener in other ways. Supporters of the company insist that Apple products have re-sale value, that they hold their value over time (unlike other computer products that rot on the shelves), and this should be taken into consideration. Gigaom speculates that Apple is working on a new standard, replacing EPEAT, one that will more effectively address environmental concerns and allow it to go along as it's presently going.
Maybe. Hope so.
What investors need to ask themselves right now is how much this will impact Apple, if at all. (It might be a buying opportunity, although the stock has barely budged since the story came out.) Western buyers may be happy to know that Apple does recycle its products, on its own, through its own web site.
But this is a global market. There are dangerous chemicals in all computer products, like cadmium and lead, which when dumped in landfills can cause people to get sick and die. That's why EPEAT exists. There are also trash mountains across the Third World where children pick through the garbage, looking for something to eat. Can Apple really wait until a bunch of these kids die from lead or cadmium leached out of tossed-away Apples because it didn't want recyclers to be able to pull the things apart?
My own guess is that the company can probably slide on this for several months, but that it's going to have to come up with a solution to the problem of repair, recycle and reuse. Otherwise this PR problem becomes a real one.
But what do you think?
Disclosure: I am long AAPL.