Apple's 2015 Enviromental Responsibility Report shows larger carbon footprint

article thumbnail

Apple on Monday issued the 2015 edition of its Environmental Responsibility report, trumpeting attempts to reduce the company's contributions to problems like climate change and resource depletion, while admitting gaps in managing its carbon footprint.

As with last year's report, Apple stated in the new document that it has three main priorities: limiting climate change through renewable energy and power efficiency, conserving resources, and pioneering the application of "greener" materials in products and processes.

The company reiterated, for instance, that all of its datacenters are powered by renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, biogas, geothermal, and "micro-hydro" power. In terms of efficiency, the company claims to have reduced the average total greenhouse gas emissions during product use by 61 percent since 2008.

One highlight of the report is the recent announcement of its deal with The Conservation Fund to buy 36,000 acres of forest in Maine and North Carolina for sustainable paper and packaging manufacturing. The company also draws attention to the iPhone 6, iPad Air 2, and 12-inch MacBook dropping beryllium from their list of included chemicals, and a deal with SunPower for twin solar plants in China's Sichuan province.

Regarding climate charge, Apple said that it generated about 34.2 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2014, an increase from 33.8 million in 2013. The vast majority, 24.8 million, came from its third-party manufacturing partners. Another 7 million is estimated to have been produced by consumers, while 1.6 million was created by transportation. Half a million tons stemmed from recycling efforts, while Apple's own facilities accounted for roughly 400,000 tons.

Apple blamed the slip on high sales, particularly of the iPhone, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air, as well as increased memory and storage production. Manufacturing emissions jumped 5 percent, It also claimed increased carbon efficiency however, pointing to a 7 percent drop in emissions from product use.

As of last year, all of Apple's US operations and 87 percent of its international facilities are based on renewable energy, lowering carbon output — the company's eventual aim is to power all of its buildings with renewables, including every Apple Store, whether through onsite sources or deals with suppliers. Between its 2011 and 2014 fiscal years, Apple lowered its net Scope 1 and 2 CO2 equivalent emissions 48 percent to less than 100,000 metric tons.

Apple facilities that are being built or undergoing "major" renovations will now use LED lighting, as well as HVAC and plumbing equipment picked for lifecycle cost rather than the initial one. Those efficiency efforts were first put into place last year, and are affecting buildings in the US, Europe, and Asia.

On the subject of resources, Apple said that more than 80 percent of the paper and corrugated cardboard used for iPhone, iPad, iPod, Mac, and Apple TV packages in 2014 came from sustainable forest, controlled wood, or recycling sources. The company is hoping to eventually eliminate all virgin fiber sources — the Conservation Fund deal is said to be equivalent to "nearly half" the virgin fiber Apple used in fiscal 2014.

To go with the report, Apple released a two-minute promotional video summarizing its achievements.