August 9th, 2020 by Johnna Crider
Apple is making big changes to its supply chain and products by committing to be 100% carbon neutral by 2030. The company announced on its website that it’s already carbon neutral for corporate emissions globally and that it wants to bring its entire carbon footprint to “net zero.” If it succeeds in doing this by or before 2030, it will be 20 years earlier than the IPCC goals of 2050.
By 2030, Apple’s entire business will be carbon neutral — from supply chain to the power you use in every device we make. The planet we share can’t wait, and we want to be a ripple in the pond that creates a much larger change. https://t.co/bltmlnau1X
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) July 21, 2020
In a statement, Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, said, “Businesses have a profound opportunity to help build a more sustainable future, one born of our common concern for the planet we share. The innovations powering our environmental journey are not only good for the planet — they’ve helped us make our products more energy-efficient and bring new sources of clean energy online around the world. Climate action can be the foundation for a new era of innovative potential, job creation, and durable economic growth. With our commitment to carbon neutrality, we hope to be a ripple in the pond that creates a much larger change.”
Apple hopes to be a leader among its corporate peers by creating a roadmap for other companies. Corporate giants, such as Amazon, for example, are reducing their impacts on climate change and many now have their own plans as well as challenges. Apple released its 2020 Environmental Progress Report last month, and in this report the company detailed its plans to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030. Also in these plans are how it will develop innovative carbon-removal solutions for the remaining 25% of its footprint.
“The Supplier Clean Energy Program is at the center of Apple’s commitment to making world-class products with greener manufacturing. Our suppliers are taking significant actions to join us in this work, and we look forward to seeing more bold pledges as we continue to address our environmental impact.” — Jeff Williams, Apple’s Chief Operating Officer
One way Apple is supporting these efforts is by creating an Impact Accelerator program that will invest in minority-owned businesses that influence its supply chain positively. Apple will also invest in communities that are disproportionately affected by environmental hazards. As part of that, Apple just recently announced a $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative that will focus on education, economic equality, and criminal justice reform.
Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiative, Lisa Jackson, who was previously the US EPA Administrator, noted how proud she was of Apple’s roadmap and goals. “We’re proud of our environmental journey and the ambitious roadmap we have set for the future. Systemic racism and climate change are not separate issues, and they will not abide separate solutions. We have a generational opportunity to help build a greener and more just economy, one where we develop whole new industries in the pursuit of giving the next generation a planet worth calling home.”
Apple’s 10-Year Climate Roadmap
The goal in this roadmap is for Apple to lower emissions via several actions. Low-carbon product design is one of these key actions. Apple plans to increase its use of low-carbon and recycled materials in its products while designing them to be as energy efficient as possible.
To help with recycling, Apple has a robot named Dave that disassembles the Taptic Engine from the iPhone so that it can recover key materials such as rare earth magnets and tungsten in a way that will enable the recovery of steel. Apple also has a lab in Texas, the Material Recovery Lab, which is partnering with Carnegie Mellon University to create engineering solutions in recycling.
Apple also announced that all of its devices that were released within the past year were made from recycled content. Some of this includes 100% recycled rare earth elements in the iPhone Taptic Engine, which is a first for Apple and any smartphone. Through recycling, Apple decreased its carbon footprint by 4.3 million metric tones in 2019. It achieved this through design and recycled content innovations.
Apple noted that over the past 11 years, it reduced the average energy needed to use its products by 73%.
Through its new partnership with the US–China Green Fund, Apple plans to invest $100 million toward accelerated energy efficiency projects for its suppliers. 92 of Apple’s facilities that participate in its Supplier Energy Efficiency Program avoided over 779,000 annualized metric tons of supply chain carbon emissions. Also in 2019, Apple upgraded 6.4 million square feet of new and existing buildings with energy-efficiency upgrades. This lowered electricity needs by almost one-fifth and saved the company $27 million.
Apple plans to remain at 100% renewable energy for its operations and has commitments from over 70 suppliers that they will use 100% renewable energy. This is nearly 8 gigawatts of power capacity that is used to manufacture Apple’s products. The goals are to avoid over 14.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. Apple noted that this is equal to taking more than 3 million cars off the road every year.
Apple is also launching one of the world’s largest solar arrays in Scandinavia and is involved with projects that will help underserved communities in Thailand and the Philippines. It also has projects in Arizona, Oregon, and Illinois that will bring the company’s renewable capacity for its corporate operations to over one gigawatt. This produces enough electricity for over 150,000 homes each year. Apple also stated that over 80% of its renewable energy that it sources comes from Apple’s own projects.
Apple is helping the development of a direct carbon-free aluminum smelting process. It’s doing this through investments and partnership with two of its aluminum suppliers, and this will be the first time anything like this has been developed. The first batch of this new low-carbon aluminum is currently being used in production for Apple’s 16-inch MacBook Pro.
Apple has also helped reduce emissions from fluorinated gasses by more than 242,000 metric tons back in 2019. Apple uses these gases in the manufacturing of some of its electronics components.
Apple announced a carbon solutions fund that will support the restoration and protection of forests and natural ecosystems worldwide. It’s partnering with Conservation International to help support existing projects such as restoring degraded savannas in Kenya. It’s also working with The Conservation Fund and the World Wildlife Fund to protect over a million acres of forest in China, the US, Colombia, and Kenya.
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