Apple acts on climate change

Apple Inc. drew attention to its strong environmental campaign for Earth Day earlier this week. With a headline “Climate change is a real problem, so we are taking real action” Apple Canada has published an environmental web page that is, perhaps arguably, one of the strongest climate change action sites in the corporate world. Apple has similar but not identical environmental messages on its global site. To Gallondaily’s pleasure, the Canadian site focuses on climate change while the global site focuses on environmental footprint.

Apple Canada’s environmental responsibility web page highlights the following aspects, among others:

  • It takes an enormous amount of energy to design, assemble, ship and use hundreds of millions of products all over the world. A portion of that energy comes from burning fossil fuels, which creates carbon emissions. Those emissions make up our carbon footprint – our share of the climate change problem. We’re striving to reduce that footprint, and we’re making great progress. But there’s still a lot of work to be done.
  • We take a rigorous approach to measuring our environmental impact. In fact, we know of no other company in our industry that goes so far in measuring, verifying and disclosing its carbon emissions. Instead of reporting just the carbon footprint of the facilities we own, we also include the carbon footprint of our supply chain. And we don’t use generalized industry‑standard measurement models — we use a comprehensive product life cycle analysis that measures the carbon footprint throughout the entire life of our products, so everything is meticulously accounted for. That means adding up emissions generated from the manufacturing, transportation, use and recycling of our products, as well as emissions generated by all of our facilities. And while we’re constantly improving, we’re also constantly reporting — even when our numbers aren’t as good as we’d like them to be.
  • We’re always trying to improve the way we conduct our greenhouse gas life cycle analysis. And when our assessments reveal a material, process or system that’s making a significant negative impact on our carbon footprint, we re-examine how we design that product, process or facility.
  • Our goal is to power all Apple corporate offices, retail stores and data centres entirely with energy from renewable sources — solar, wind, micro-hydro and geothermal. We’re designing new buildings and updating existing ones to use as little electricity as possible. We’re investing in our own Apple onsite energy production as well as establishing relationships with third‑party energy suppliers to source renewable energy. As of 2013, we’ve already converted 73 percent of the energy for all our facilities — 86 percent for our corporate campuses and 100 percent for our data centres.
  • Like everything we build, our new Apple campus in Cupertino pushes the boundaries of technology — it will be the most energy‑efficient building of its kind.
  • A lot of the things that used to be done on a computer are now being done on an iPad or iPhone. Since these smaller devices use a lot less material and energy, their carbon footprint is much smaller than that of a computer. And as these devices become more and more advanced, their footprint continues to decrease as well.
  • Every Apple product not only meets but far exceeds the strict guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for energy efficiency.
  • All electronic waste we collect worldwide is processed in the region where it’s collected — nothing is shipped overseas for disposal. The vast majority of our recycling is handled in‑region, too, keeping our transportation‑related greenhouse gas emissions low. We currently work with 153 partners around the globe whose facilities are rigorously evaluated annually on health and safety, environmental compliance, material tracking, social responsibility and other Apple mandates.

The Apple.com environmental responsibility site highlights the following elements, again among others:

  •  We strive to create products that are the best they can be in every way. Products that are beautiful, easy to use, and powerful. And the same passion for innovation goes into how we think about environmental responsibility. It’s why we work tirelessly to reduce our impact on climate change, find ways to use greener materials, and conserve the resources we all need to thrive. And while we’re proud of the progress we’ve made, we know we can still do better. It won’t all happen overnight. But we can work to get better every day.
  • Many substances commonly used in the electronics industry can be harmful to people or the planet. So we design our products with cleaner, safer materials to reduce and eliminate these toxins. And we hold our suppliers accountable — we conduct factory audits, test components with independent laboratories, and verify the results in a lab we built at our headquarters in Cupertino. It’s our mission to make sure anyone who assembles, uses, and recycles an Apple product can do so safely.
  • We have one planet with a finite amount of resources on it, and we have a responsibility to conserve those resources so future generations will have them, too. So our resource conservation starts right from the beginning — in the design stage. We create compact products that are more material efficient and last longer before they need to be replaced. And when there is remnant material, we look for opportunities to reuse that material so it doesn’t go to waste. Even the paper we use for our product packaging, iTunes Gift Cards, and iPhoto products includes recycled or recyclable materials. We work directly with paper mills to source paper from certified sustainably managed forests and controlled wood sources. And once an Apple product reaches the end of its life, we make it easy to recycle. Every Apple Retail Store will now take back Apple products for free, responsible recycling. We also hold special recycling events where we’ll even accept other companies’ products.

See Apple’s environmental messages in much more detail at http://www.apple.com/ca/environment/climate-change/ and http://www.apple.com/environment/

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