Apple publishes annual Environmental Progress Report

Apple published its annual Environmental Progress Report today. Here are some of the highlights:

In 2015, 93% of Apple’s energy came from renewable sources. In Singapore, the company is powering its facilities with a 32-megawatt solar project spread over 800 rooftops. In China, they’re adding 170 megawatts of solar to begin offsetting the energy used to make products. And Apple’s data centers around the world run on 100% clean energy and power billions of iMessages, answers from Siri, and song downloads from iTunes.

Apple is measuring its water footprint and finding ways to reduce or reuse water wherever it can. None of the waste from any of its iPhone and Apple Watch final assembly sites ends up in a landfill. Apple also created Apple Renew — a program that lets you recycle any Apple device at an Apple Store.

Apple has taken mercury and arsenic out of our screens and lead out of the solder it uses. In 2015, thecompany started a Full Material Disclosure program that shows the chemical composition of every material in every component of its products. It also makes Apple even better at reducing and removing toxins. Once the company figures out how to remove a toxin from a device or a manufacturing process, it uses extensive testing to make sure it stays out.

In response to Apple’s Environmental Progress Report, Greenpeace USA Senior IT Analyst Gary Cook (no kin to Tim) released the following statement:

“Apple's latest Environmental Progress Report continues to set a high bar for its environmental reporting, particularly on energy transparency, which is critical to demonstrate they are making progress towards its goal to be 100% renewably powered. Other companies - most notably Amazon, whose opaque approach to environmental reporting risks alienating its customers - would do well to follow Apple's example. However, its weak approach to paper and packaging sustainability is disappointing.

“While Apple’s increased transparency and leadership on renewable energy for its own operations should be applauded, the significant spike in emissions reported from its supply chain is causing Apple's overall carbon emissions to increase, 11% just in the last year. Apple’s new commitment to deploy 4 GW of renewable energy by 2020 attached to its supply chain is a significant step to tackle this challenge, and one that we hope will inspire other major electronic manufacturers to follow suit.

“In stark contrast to their energy commitments, Apple’s new standard for sourcing sustainable paper and packaging is disappointingly weak.  Apple appears to equally value the industry leading Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard and the much weaker Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), which includes the controversial Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) label. 

“Both PEFC and SFI have weak criteria and inferior audit requirements, greenwashing controversial loggers that are fueling forest destruction in critical forest ecosystems and not adequately safeguarding the right of Indigenous peoples and traditional forest-dependent communities. Apple’s new fiber standard falls short compared to other large global companies and should be strengthened in keeping with the high standard Apple has set on renewable energy.”