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Apple now runs on 100 percent renewable energy

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Making good on investments into clean energy, Apple on Monday announced its entire global operation, from offices to retail stores, is powered by renewable resources.

Apple has had a complicated relationship with environmentalism and green energy. For a few years now, the company has made promises to shift entirely to renewable energy. In the fall of 2016, the company joined a global initiative called RE100, claiming a goal of 100 percent renewable energy. That proclamation followed a 2015 deal that made Apple the largest corporate user of renewable power in the U.S.

Now, according to a company press release as well as an in-depth feature from Fast Company, Apple's facilities run entirely on green power. This includes data centers, the new Apple Park headquarters in Cupertino, retail stores and other facilities spread across 43 countries.

The 100 percent figure, however, only applies to Apple's own facilities, and not to its various partners in manufacturing and other operations. But Apple has also convinced a total of 23 companies — including nine new ones — in its supply chain to make a 100 percent energy pledge.

The achievement was accomplished in part by Apple investments into solar and wind farms near many of its data centers, as well as large solar installations atop Apple buildings like those at its Apple Park headquarters. In total, Apple has 25 renewable energy projects around the world pumping out 626 megawatts of generation capacity. The company is working to bring 15 more projects online in 11 countries, collectively capable of producing a collective 1.4 gigawatts of clean renewable energy.

"We're committed to leaving the world better than we found it. After years of hard work we're proud to have reached this significant milestone," CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. "We're going to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible with the materials in our products, the way we recycle them, our facilities and our work with suppliers to establish new creative and forward-looking sources of renewable energy because we know the future depends on it."

A long, green march

Despite running a very public environmental responsibility campaign that includes regular progress reports, ads and mentions in product presentations, Apple would find itself running afoul of activists. Greenpeace, for example, would often rank the company near the bottom of its list of the greenest companies in the consumer electronics space.

That began to change in 2007, when Steve Jobs released an open letter called "A Greener Apple," with a series of plans related to removing mercury from the company's products, as well as ramping up recycling programs.

The company has accelerated those efforts under Cook. Apple has continued to push the button on green energy and assembly. The company hired Lisa Jackson, the former EPA administrator in the Obama Administration, as its vice president for sustainability and government affairs, and early last year it a $1 billion bond to finance green energy products.