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Apple issues annual environmental report, touts renewable energy use

Dan Moren | March 22, 2013
Explains how it's improved on its goal vis-a-vis the environment

In terms of the manufacture of its goods, which accounts for 61 percent of Apple's emissions, the company points out that it's lowered carbon emissions for many of its products, ranging from the Apple TV--which generates just 10 percent of the emissions that its first incarnation did--to the current 15-inch MacBook Pro--which has been reduced by a somewhat smaller 6 percent margin over its 2006 counterpart. And, of course, the company touted its long-standing removal of toxic chemicals like PVC, BFRs, mercury, and arsenic from the vast majority of its products.

Apple's products are also themselves more energy efficient, with the Mac mini and Apple TV being particular standouts. Apple says its smallest desktop Mac uses less power than a 13-watt CFL lightbulb, while its set-top box consumes only 2W while streaming HD content--10 times less power than the original model. Overall, Apple claims have reduced by 40 percent the power consumed by its products over the years since 2008; that's resulted in 43 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions by its products' use over the same time period.

Emissions generated by transportation have also been lowered, thanks to smaller packaging that allows for more products to be transported in the same amount of space. And recycling has been improved, with the company exceeding its goal of a 70 percent recycling rate (that figure is calculated as a percentage of weight of the products that the company sold seven years earlier).

In addition to the aforementioned news about renewable energy, Apple's also helped reduce its carbon footprint by encouraging its employees to commute via more environmentally friendly means. The company provides biodiesel buses which are used by around 1600 of its employees every day, while Apple's shared bike program saw more than 50,000 trips last year. Overall, more than 13,000 of the company's employees took advantage of its more environmentally friendly commuting methods, an increase of 30 percent over 2011.

Other notes

Among the other environmental milestones Apple touts having achieved this year include the redesigned iMac, which uses far less material and generates fewer carbon emissions, as well as utilizing some recycled materials; the redesigned AirPort Express, which uses both polymers based on the rapeseed plant as well as recycled materials; and the installation of fuel cells and solar panels at its Cupertino headquarters.

Greenpeace, which has more often than not been critical of Apple over the last several years, reacted largely positively to the latest announcements.

"Apple's announcement shows that it has made real progress in its commitment to lead the way to a clean energy future," Greenpeace senior IT analyst Gary Cook said in a statement. "Apple's increased level of disclosure about its energy sources helps customers know that their iCloud will be powered by clean energy sources, not coal."


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