Lisa Jackson touts Apple's environmental initiatives in Earth Day talk

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Apple Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson appeared in the Earth Day Network's "Earth Day Live" livestream on Wednesday, where she briefly outlined the company's green initiatives and invited others to join in the fight against climate change.

Jackson in a short, pre-recorded speech aired on the Earth Day Network's official Twitch channel provided a history of her work as an environmentalist, noting her tenure as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Barack Obama. Her first brush with environmental initiatives occurred much earlier, however.

"But long before that, I was an 8-year-old girl who saw my neighbors in New Orleans battling illness caused by chemical plants in our backyard. A girl who in 1970 wrote a letter to President Nixon, imploring him to do something to protect the health of people and the environment," Jackson said. "That same year, we celebrated Earth Day in the U.S. for the very first time. And by the end of 1970, the EPA had officially opened its doors."

The Apple executive served as head of the EPA from 2009 to 2013. She joined the Cupertino tech giant to head its environmental initiatives division in May 2013 and was promoted to her current position in 2015.

Jackson went on to relate the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to critical environmental issues.

"We're living at a moment when health is always front of mind," she said. "And COVID-19 has reminded us of two essential truths: that humanity is best served when we work together and that science is our best tool to navigate the challenges we face."

Jackson underscored the importance of science by harkening back to the EPA's Endangerment Finding on Greenhouse Gases in 2009. More than 10 years later, the program is still bearing fruit that, according to Jackson, represents irrefutable evidence that there is "no time to waste in addressing climate change."

"Policy is one part of the solution, innovation is another," she said. "And we're bringing Apple's creativity and innovative spirit to the fight against climate change by operating every one of our facilities around the world on 100% renewable energy, and helping our suppliers to do the same."

Apple in 2018 announced a successful transition to 100% renewable energy, noting its entire operation, from offices to retail stores, now runs on some ilk of green power. Those efforts have since expanded to partner manufacturers in China and beyond.

Jackson also noted Apple is using recycled and renewable materials "more and more" in product manufacturing. The company in 2017 set the ambitious goal of one day creating a closed loop supply chain in which its products will be made from 100% recycled materials. Apple's "Daisy" disassembly robot, which breaks down iPhones into smaller components that can be further processed for mineral extraction and refinement, is one step toward realizing that goal.

In 2018, Apple introduced MacBook Air and Mac mini models with enclosures made from 100% recycled aluminum. Likewise, the company's product packaging, typically a major source of waste, is crafted from 100% renewable wood fiber.

"We are seeing many of our industry peers step up to the plate, but we all know there's more to do," Jackson said. "We still need the kind of compassionate, urgent action we've seen around the COVID-19 response to help our world transition to a clean, green economy."

The Earth Day Live broadcast featured discussions with dozens of environmentalists, scientists, world leaders and celebrities, as well as musical performances and special films. Actor and prominent green movement advocate Ed Begley Jr. hosted the event with daughter Hayden Begley.