Apple has celebrated Earth Day for many years, but the company has more going on for 2021 than ever before including an environmental justice initiative, content tie-ins across several services, and an Apple Watch challenge.
Posts tagged with "environment"
Every year Apple releases a new environmental report showing the company’s progress in environmental efforts, and alongside the release of this year’s report, the company has announced a new commitment for the decade ahead:
Apple today unveiled its plan to become carbon neutral across its entire business, manufacturing supply chain, and product life cycle by 2030. The company is already carbon neutral today for its global corporate operations, and this new commitment means that by 2030, every Apple device sold will have net zero climate impact.
“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. “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. With our commitment to carbon neutrality, we hope to be a ripple in the pond that creates a much larger change.”
Achieving carbon neutrality for its corporate operations was a nice milestone for the company, but this new commitment appears far more challenging. Apple works with third-party suppliers and manufacturers all around the world to build its devices, and fulfilling this new goal depends a lot on those third parties. It will be interesting to see over the next decade all of the different actions that will be taken to find success in carbon neutrality, but the report of Apple including fewer accessories in the box with new iPhone purchases certainly seems like it would help.
We’ve covered Apple’s recycling robot Daisy, and its predecessor, Liam, before. Both are part of Apple’s efforts to become a ‘closed-loop’ manufacturer that doesn’t rely on the mining industry for the materials that make up its products.
Apple gave Reuters a tour of the warehouse in Austin, Texas that houses Daisy recently. According to the story:
Daisy, less than 20 yards in length, uses a four-step process to remove an iPhone battery with a blast of -80 Celsius (-176 Fahrenheit) degree air, and then pop out screws and modules, including the haptic module that makes a phone vibrate.
From the process, Apple is able to remove 14 minerals from 200 iPhones per hour that are sent to recyclers for extraction and refinement.
The company’s recycling effort has its skeptics as outlined in the Reuters story, but it’s commendable nonetheless. Be sure to check out the full story for images of Daisy and the components it removes from iPhones.
With Earth Day just around the corner, Apple has issued a press release announcing the expansion of its existing iPhone recycling program, an Apple Watch fitness challenge and more.
Last year for Earth Day, Apple took the wraps off of Daisy, a recycling robot that replaced Liam, an iPhone disassembly robot first introduced to the world in 2016. Daisy can take apart 15 different models of iPhones for a total of 1.2 million devices every year. The recycling process allows Apple to recover materials like cobalt from batteries, tin from logic boards, and aluminum, which is being remelted into cases for Mac minis and now, MacBook Airs.
This year Apple has announced that it is expanding its recycling program to include iPhone returned to Best Buy stores in the US and KPN stores in the Netherlands. Previously, iPhones could only be returned to an Apple Store as part of the company’s Trade In program. Apple says this will quadruple the number of locations where customers can return iPhones in the US. The company also announced the opening of a 9,000 square foot Material Recovery Lab in Austin, Texas.
Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives said:
“Advanced recycling must become an important part of the electronics supply chain, and Apple is pioneering a new path to help push our industry forward. “We work hard to design products that our customers can rely on for a long time. When it comes time to recycle them, we hope that the convenience and benefit of our programs will encourage everyone to bring in their old devices.”
Additional information is about Apple’s environmental efforts are available in its 2019 Environment report.
Finally, Apple is celebrating Earth Day, which is next Monday, April 22nd, with an Apple Watch Earth Day Challenge. Apple Watch users who complete a 30-minute outdoor workout on April 22nd will receive a special Earth Day award and stickers for Messages. The company will also be conducting special Earth Day-themed Today at Apple sessions in its retail stores.
I just finished Leander Kahney’s book about Tim Cook, which does an excellent job chronicling Apple’s environmental programs over the years, and it’s interesting to see the steady march of progress as Apple recovers more and more of the materials used to build iPhones. The addition of retailers like Best Buy to the recycling program is just as significant a step forward though because it makes those programs more accessible for the first time to iPhone owners who don’t have an Apple Store near their homes.
In 2015, Apple announced plans to build a data center in Athenry, Ireland. The facility was designed to run on renewable energy like other data centers Apple operates around the globe. However, the Irish project ran into problems from the start.
According to TechCrunch, concerns about the center’s environmental impact and effect on the electrical grid slowed the project down. Then, after Apple received the approval of the Galway County Council to begin building, individual objections were lodged and the disputes wound up in the Irish courts. With the prospect of appeals that would continue to prevent it from commencing construction, Apple decided to cancel the project.
In a statement to TechCrunch, Apple said:
“We’ve been operating in Ireland since 1980 and we’re proud of the many contributions we make to the economy and job creation. In the last two years we’ve spent over €550 million with local companies and, all told, our investment and innovation supports more than 25,000 jobs up and down the country. We’re deeply committed to our employees and customers in Ireland and are expanding our operations in Cork, with a new facility for our talented team there,” the company said in a statement provided to TechCrunch. “Several years ago we applied to build a data centre at Athenry. Despite our best efforts, delays in the approval process have forced us to make other plans and we will not be able to move forward with the data centre. While disappointing, this setback will not dampen our enthusiasm for future projects in Ireland as our business continues to grow.”
A second facility in Denmark that was announced at the same time the Irish data center is nearly complete. Apple has not announced any details about its ‘other plans’ referenced in its statement to TechCrunch.
Apple has issued a press release announcing that from today through April 30th, the company will make a donation to Conservation International for each device turned in for recycling through Apple’s GiveBack program. The company also took the opportunity to introduce Daisy, its next-generation iPhone recycling robot.
Through Apple GiveBack, devices can be recycled in person at an Apple Store or using apple.com. In exchange for eligible devices, customers will receive in-store credit or an Apple gift card and Apple will donate to Conservation International, which:
…uses science, policy and partnerships to protect the natural world people rely on for food, fresh water and livelihood. Founded in 1987, the organization works in more than 30 countries on six continents to ensure a healthy, prosperous planet.
…is the most efficient way to reclaim more of the valuable materials stored in iPhone. Created through years of R&D, Daisy incorporates revolutionary technology based on Apple’s learnings from Liam, its first disassembly robot launched in 2016. Daisy is made from some of Liam’s parts and is capable of disassembling nine versions of iPhone and sorting their high-quality components for recycling. Daisy can take apart up to 200 iPhone devices per hour, removing and sorting components, so that Apple can recover materials that traditional recyclers can’t — and at a higher quality.
Apple’s press release includes a video showcasing Daisy in action too.
Finally, notifications are being sent to Apple Watch users today announcing an Earth Day fitness challenge. Users who complete a 30-minute workout this Sunday, April 22nd will earn a special badge in the Apple Watch and iOS Activities apps and iMessage stickers.
Apple announced today that its global facilities, which include retails store, offices, data centers, and co-located facilities in 43 countries are powered by 100 percent clean energy. Apple CEO Tim Cook said:
“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,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “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.”
The list of Apple’s renewable energy projects around the world is impressive, as are the aggregate numbers involved:
Apple currently has 25 operational renewable energy projects around the world, totaling 626 megawatts of generation capacity, with 286 megawatts of solar PV generation coming online in 2017, its most ever in one year. It also has 15 more projects in construction. Once built, over 1.4 gigawatts of clean renewable energy generation will be spread across 11 countries.
Apple also announced the names of nine additional manufacturing partners that have committed to powering their Apple production with 100 percent clean energy, which brings the total number to 23.
In addition to its press release, Apple’s Vice President of environment, policy, and social initiatives Lisa Jackson sat down with Fast Company for an interview:
According to Jackson, it would have been easy enough for Apple to trumpet its landmark achievement in renewable energy earlier. “If you look at our trajectory, for the last couple of years we’ve been close to 100%,” she says. “It’s just four percent more, but it’s four percent done the right way. So this announcement feels like a classic Apple product release. Like our products, we sweat the details, we have pretty strict standards, and we prefer to wait and meet our standards than to rush and make a claim.”
Fast Company’s feature is an in-depth look at Apple’s clean energy initiatives that excels at providing context and a sense of the scope of the effort. One such example is Apple’s enormous Nevada data center:
You have to see Apple’s Reno, Nevada, data center from the inside to truly understand how huge it is. It’s made up of five long white buildings sitting side by side on a dry scrubby landscape just off I-80, and the corridor that connects them through the middle is a quarter-mile long. On either side are big, dark rooms–more than 50 of them–filled with more than 200,000 identical servers, tiny lights winking in the dark from their front panels.
The Fast Company profile is worth reading in its entirety because it also dives deep into the role of Renewable Energy Certificates and suppliers in Apple’s clean energy projects. The article provides the substance behind Tim Cook’s press release statement, backing up the company’s renewable energy claims with a close look at every facet of the initiative.
Fortune today published an interview Adam Lashinsky held with Apple CEO Tim Cook earlier this year. Their conversation centers on Apple’s attempts at societal contribution, covering topics like health, education, the environment, and more.
In the area of health, Cook acknowledged that while many of the company’s health initiatives are not directly profitable in any way, he does understand that from a financial standpoint health care is a key area for Apple to invest in. And they are investing. He says:
There’s much more in the health area. There’s a lot of stuff that I can’t tell you about that we’re working on, some of which it’s clear there’s a commercial business there. And some of it it’s clear there’s not. And some of it it‘s not clear. I do think it’s a big area for Apple’s future.
One other interesting piece from the interview surrounds Apple’s lack of interest in setting up a company foundation, breaking from the pattern of many other large corporations. Cook explained his reasoning:
When a company sets up a foundation, there is a risk, in my judgment, of the foundation becoming this other thing that is not connected to the company. It has a separate board of directors. They make reasonably independent decisions sometimes. It becomes a separate thing. I don’t want that for Apple. I want everybody involved…If we had a foundation, my fear was it becomes something that 10 or 12 or 20 or 50 people do. And all of a sudden for the 120,000, it’s just this separate thing out there. People work here to change the world. So I think that should be integral to what the company does. Not peripheral in a foundation.
It’s possible we’ll see announcements related to Apple’s work in the areas of health and the environment at its September 12 keynote event, with the former tied to Apple Watch announcements and the latter to the creation of Apple Park, where the event will be held.
Special guest Lisa Jackson — Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives — joins the show for an Earth Day discussion of the state of Apple’s environmental efforts: climate change, renewable energy, responsible packaging, and Apple’s new goal to create a “closed-loop supply chain”, wherein the company’s products would be manufactured entirely from recycled materials.
I enjoyed John Gruber’s interview with Apple’s Lisa Jackson on the company’s approach to various environmental initiatives. It’s a fascinating, eye-opening discussion. Take an hour of your time to listen to it. It’s obvious that some incredibly smart and talented people are working on these issues at Apple.