HomeArticlesApple and ecology: how a well-known IT company takes care of the environment

The modern world cannot be imagined without information technology. And the business of numerous IT companies is largely associated with environmental impact, especially when it comes not only to software, but also to the production of devices. And even more so for the giants of the industry that create mobile gadgets for millions of users from all over the world. One of the international leaders in this industry is Apple. Isn't it really nice to know that this company is distinguished not only by its successful marketing, but also by its attitude towards the environment?

Apple environmental responsibility

Apple Annual Environmental Reporting

For years, Apple has been reporting to the public about its environmental initiatives, talking about new achievements and progress on old indicators. The latest such report was the Apple Environmental Responsibility Report 2017 , summing up the 2016 fiscal year and already the tenth annual update in the company's history.

Apple has three key environmental goals:

  1. Reduce your impact on climate change by using renewable energy sources (solar, wind, etc.) and by improving the energy efficiency of your products and buildings.
  2. Preserve valuable resources for shared prosperity.
  3. Be the first to use safer materials in products and related processes.

All environmental steps taken by the company in one way or another come down to achieving these goals. What are they?

Apple reduces impact on climate change

Apple's cumulative carbon footprint for the last fiscal year was 29.5 million metric tons, down 23% from last year's 38.4 million. Since the calculation methodology changed at the same time, it is important to note that under the old method, the emission reduction would have been 10%. This was achieved by reducing emissions from aluminum production (priority is given to aluminum created using hydropower, and scrap aluminum is used for iPhone 7 cases) and the use of "clean energy" in the supply chain . The largest part of emissions (77%) comes from production processes. The use of Apple products accounts for about 17% of the total mass.

The main emissions during production are due to the electricity used (about 60%). By working on this, Apple is helping its suppliers switch to renewable energy sources. Improvements made during the year reduced supplier emissions by 150,000 metric CO₂e. At the moment, at the initiative of Apple in six provinces of China, where the company's products are manufactured, wind and solar power plants , generating a total of 485 megawatts . In total, at the moment (April 2017), Apple's partner companies use 2 gigawatts of clean energy, and by 2020 there is a plan to increase this amount to 4 GW (this will be a third of the entire current carbon footprint of production). Since working with partners is complex and lengthy for a number of reasons, Apple launched a special corporate web portal in several languages ​​dedicated to clean energy (Clean Energy Portal) and offers ready-made guides on how to promote and implement such initiatives.

Solar panels on rooftops of 800+ buildings in Singapore for Apple's 100% renewable energy

Apple also aims to transfer only renewable energy to all its buildings in the world. Currently, 96% of the company's premises use clean, renewable energy . In 24 countries (including the US, UK, China and Australia) this figure has reached 100%, and the company aims to repeat the success in all other places of its presence. We are talking not only about offices, retail stores and Apple's own data centers, but also about product distribution centers and rented data centers. This made it possible to bring the share of emissions from this part of the company's infrastructure to 1% of the total amount, taking into account all the production, transportation and use of gadgets, etc.

Apple recognizes that "the purest energy is the energy you've never used." Thanks to energy efficiency improvements made by the company over the past 6 years, Apple saved 55 million kilowatt-hours in fiscal year 2016. The result was achieved through measures such as switching to light-emitting diode (LED) lighting, increasing the efficiency of existing equipment in buildings, updating heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, and incorporating modern high-efficiency solutions into the design of new buildings.

Finally, energy efficiency issues are also taken into account in the company's direct developments : in new versions of its software products (Mac OS X, iOS, etc.) and gadgets (MacBook, iPhone, etc.), the company seeks to reduce energy consumption everywhere, especially when idle and frequently performed operations. The average energy consumption of Apple products has decreased by 70 percent since 2008. iMac personal computers consume 97% less power in sleep mode than the first generations of these devices. Compact Mac mini computers consume 40% less idle power than previous generations, and their overall energy efficiency exceeds the required international Energy Star rating by up to 7 times. For applications that use Apple's online services - messaging with iMessage, calling with FaceTime and personal assistance from Siri - servers are used in the company's data centers, which are 100% powered by renewable energy.

Apple cares about resources and safe materials

Robot Liam dismantles iPhone for recycling

The Apple Renew program allows all buyers of Apple devices to recycle (or send for resale). It is very easy to do this: by installing the application of the same name, you can get a pre-paid stamp to send the device to the company. At the same time, Apple not only pays for the package, but also offers its users a gift certificate for new purchases. By the way, the recycling itself in the company is carried out in a very innovative way: Apple has developed a line of Liam robots that disassemble the iPhone 6 into components, sorting them by quality. This approach allows you to disassemble up to 2.4 million smartphones a year. What happens next? Recycled aluminum is used in new gadgets - for example, the cases of the iPhone 6 removed by robots become the material for the new Mac Mini computers. Another example is when soldering the main board of the iPhone 6s, only recycled tin is used.

All end assemblers of iPhones and Apple Watch smartwatches have a dedicated Zero Waste committed to minimizing manufacturing waste. Zero Waste to Landfill test , which certifies that businesses are 100% compliant with modern, sustainable waste management practices.

Apple not only counts the amount of water consumed in all its offices, data centers and points of sale, but also initiated an educational Clean Water Program, in which it teaches its partners how to save water and prevent its pollution. This enabled the company's partners to save more than 3 billion gallons (more than 11 billion liters) of water in 2016 alone and increase average water reuse by 36% at 86 locations.

Apple Earth Day Promotion: Purchased 'Apps for Ear' Applications Donate to WWF

Forests not forgotten : In 2016, Apple used 131,000 metric tons of wood, 62% recycled, 38% new from responsibly managed sources, and less than 1% of the wood was from non-sustainable sources. In addition, the company, in collaboration with others (such as The Conservation Fund and the World Wildlife Fund), protects forests in various regions of the world, including the United States and China.

Added (June 16, 2017) : Apple's most recent move was to promptly raise an additional $1 billion in its green bond to fund environmental initiatives in response to Donald Trump's to pull the US out of Paris climate agreement . Shortly before this, the head of Apple Tim Cook (Tim Cook) tried to convince the US president not to take such a step and publicly criticized him for his choice.

By building their own Environmental Testing Lab, Apple chemists and toxicologists are investigating environmental potential Particular attention is paid to "wearable" gadgets (wearable) that come into contact with people's skin (Apple Watch). Artificial sweat has even been developed to carry out such tests, and when checking the digital Apple Pencil, the likelihood that it will be chewed while drawing is taken into account.

Toxins identified in Apple products are eliminated, replaced with new (safer) materials, or at least reduced in number. One of the company's goals is to "remove toxins from manufacturing and processing processes to keep employees safe and prevent pollutants from entering the ground, air or water." In particular, today: beryllium has been eliminated from all new products, mercury has been absent since 2009, lead since 2006 (contained in screen glass and solder), arsenic since 2008 (screen glass).

What is Apple being criticized for?

Everywhere there is room for improvement, and Apple's environmental policy is no exception. In particular, Greenpeace, while recognizing the company's outstanding achievements (particularly in the advancement of renewable energy in Asia), believes that gadgets lack longevity /use and ease of repair :

Going 100% recycled is critical to reducing the footprint of this industry, but it's also essential for Apple and other big IT companies to design products that last, are easy to repair, and are recycled at the end of their lives.

Official data from Apple states that the expected lifetime of products based on Mac OS X (the operating system for desktops and laptops) and tvOS (the operating system for digital television Apple TV) is 4 years, and products based on iOS (i.e. smartphones and tablets) and watchOS (smart watches) - 3 years.

The controversial attitude of Steve Jobs to ecology is also known - it is enough to recall that he had a private plane.


The cumulative damage to the environment from modern business, especially those behind mass products, is difficult to overestimate. All the more pleased are well-known companies that show not only their professional activities, but also the consideration of the needs of the modern world in caring for the environment. The publication of regular environmental responsibility reports is a very important step towards a collective change in attitudes towards nature and the planet as a whole.

And, of course, not only reports are important, but also the actions themselves. Even if some steps are not ideal, and the commercial component often has clear priorities ... those actions that are already being taken for environmental reasons and how the approach itself has changed over time, of course, bring positive innovations to the world, demonstrating a more responsible approach to business and an example for others , as well as drawing the attention of the general public to a significant issue.

Apple Park in Cupertino (USA, California) will be the largest building in North America certified as the most sustainable (LEED Platinum)

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Dmitry Shurupov Dmitry Shurupov

1 comment

  1. As for the processing of technology, this is great, of course, but Apple itself encourages people to buy new devices, even if the old ones still work. That is, the company is simply reducing its environmental debt a little. Better than nothing, but there is still the problem of information security. Apple technology is so arranged that, for example, it is physically impossible to remove a hard drive from a MacBook without breaking it into trash. What if I don't want someone else to have access to my files after the resale? After all, simply formatting the disk may not be enough. Here is something about used equipment remarketing, Apple would do well to add such a service https://medium.com/@p.svirsky/%D0%B0%D0%BA%D1%82%D1%83% D0%B0%D0%BB%D1%8C%D0%BD%D1%8B%D0%B5-%D1%82%D1%80%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%B4%D1%8B-% D0%B7%D0%B0%D1%89%D0%B8%D1%82%D1%8B-%D1%8D%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%BB%D0%BE%D0%B3%D0 %B8%D0%B8-%D0%B2-2020-2021-%D0%B3%D0%BE%D0%B4%D0%B0%D1%85-8822edbd3c7e

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