Story at a glance

  • Apple will focus on making its supply chain and manufacturing more sustainable over the next decade.
  • The company has received favorable environmental reviews since 2017.

Joining the ranks of major companies aiming to reduce their carbon emissions and become more environmentally friendly, Apple just announced that it aims to become fully carbon neutral by 2030.

The tech and software company launched a new plan that focuses on revamping its manufacturing supply chain and product life cycle to ultimately have a net zero climate impact. This would require things like more energy efficient data centers, recycling materials used to create electronic devices and carbon-free aluminum production. 

Further helping support these efforts will be Apple’s new Impact Accelerator that will focus on investing in minority-owned businesses — an initiative launched following the police killing of George Floyd and the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests.

“Businesses have a profound opportunity to help build a more sustainable future, one born of our common concern for the planet we share,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, in the press release. “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.”

Outlined in a 10-year timeline, Apple aims to focus on a low-carbon product design using recycled materials to make its devices more sustainable, expanding energy efficiency and operating on clean and renewable energy, such as wind or solar power, using low-carbon aluminum to produce its products and contributing to funds removing existing carbon from the atmosphere, such as through The Conservation Fund, the World Wildlife Fund, and Conservation International.

Through shifts to renewable energy alone, Apple estimates that it will save 14.3 million metric tons of carbon emissions from the atmosphere annually. 

Across its supply chains, Apple’s overall goal is to transition to a completely electric model, where its mineral and material extraction, device manufacturing and final product assembly is sustainable. This primarily involves working with and supporting companies committed to clean energy, mainly in the form of wind and solar solutions. 

The majority of renewable energy solutions Apple and its suppliers participate in are renewable power purchases or direct investments in green energy projects. 

The tech industry has consistently blossomed over the past decade, with the onset of intuitive devices and software like iPhones and apps becoming more synchronized into daily life. This demand, however, drives manufacturing that emits more and more greenhouse gases into the Earth’s already polluted atmosphere. 

One of the earliest reports outlining steps tech companies can take to become more environmentally friendly came from Greenpeace in 2017. It graded companies like Samsung, Sony, Google, Acer, Amazon and Apple. While no company scored an A, Apple received one of the highest ratings, scoring between a C and a B.

Apple notably received a B in removing hazardous chemicals from its manufacturing process in the report. 

The report noted that manufacturing supply chains are big carbon culprits.

It acknowledged in 2017 that Apple was the only company to commit to 100 percent renewable power for its supply chain. If the company stays on track for its 2030 goal, the environmental effects could be substantial. 

“Now is the time for the tech sector to channel its expertise into reinventing the way that electronic devices are made and used in society, to reverse the ever-increasing consumption of the planet’s finite resources and reliance on fossil fuels, creating a circular and renewably powered business model that other sectors can follow,” the report stated.

Published on Jul 22, 2020