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Why is Apple the only huge tech company that really cares about the environment?

Published Apr 20th, 2015 3:16PM EDT
Apple Environment

Ahead of Earth Day, Apple on Monday published its annual Environmental Responsibility Report covering the company’s ongoing commitment to “leave the world better than we found it.” The new environmental report comes hot on the heels of last week’s announcement that Apple will be purchasing 36,000 acres of forest land in order to responsibly and sustainably manage its paper supply chain for items such as packaging and marketing materials.

The full report underscores Apple’s seemingly unrivaled commitment to being as environmentally friendly and conscious as possible. Apple today  is one of the few tech company’s willing to address head on some of today’s more pressing environmental issues. What’s more, the level of transparency and the depth of information Apple provides in its environmental report is rarely, if ever, seen in Silicon Valley, with Google and Facebook being the lone exceptions.

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Apple’s environmental report reads in part:

We take a thorough approach to measuring and taking responsibility for our environmental impact. In fact, we know of no other company in our industry that goes so far in measuring, verifying, and disclosing its carbon emissions. Instead of reporting just the carbon footprint of the facilities we own, we also include the carbon footprint of our supply chain. And we don’t use generalized industry-standard measurement models— we use a comprehensive product life cycle analysis that measures the carbon footprint throughout the entire life of our products, so everything is meticulously accounted for. That means adding up emissions generated from the manufacturing, transportation, use, and recycling of our products, as well as emissions generated by all our facilities. And while we’re constantly improving, we’re also constantly reporting—even when our numbers aren’t as good as we’d like them to be.

While Apple has long been keen on environmental friendliness, things really kicked into high gear once Tim Cook assumed the role of CEO. Helping matters, of course, was Apple’s 2013 hire of Lisa Jackson, who previously headed up the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Some of the report’s additional highlights include:

  • Every one of Apple’s data centers is powered by clean sources
  • Since 2008, Apple has reduced the average total of greenhouse gas emissions “during the use phase” of its products by 61%
  • Apple continues to lead the industry when it comes to removing harmful toxins such as PVC from its products
  • Apple now offers recycling programs in 99% of the countries where its products are sold
  • Every Apple retail store on the planet now accepts used Apple products for recycling, all done at no cost to the end user
  • 100% of Apple’s U.S. operations and 87% of Apple’s foreign operations are powered by renewable energy
  • Apple has a transit subsidy program which offers employees $100 per month for taking public transit
  • Apple continues to employ smarter power management software. For instance, the current cost to charge the battery of an iPhone 6 once a day is $0.57 a year

Alongside the environmental report, Apple also released the following video highlighting its environmental initiatives worldwide.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.