Environmental Responsibility at Apple

We’re building the greenest corporate headquarters on the planet.

(Apple) – Apple Park in Cupertino is on track to be the largest LEED Platinum–certified office building in North America—and that includes facilities dedicated to energy-intensive research and development. It’s powered by 100 percent renewable energy, 75 percent of which is generated onsite by a 17-megawatt rooftop solar installation and 4 megawatts of baseload biogas fuel cells. Any additional energy required is drawn from the California Flats Solar Project in nearby Monterey County. When the building has less use—on weekends, for example—it will actually generate renewable energy that’s delivered to Pacific Gas and Electric for use in the public grid. Over 80 percent of the new campus is open space with more than 9000 drought-tolerant trees. Most of them are oak, and many are shade and fruit trees. We also reclaimed old-growth oak trees from California landscapes where they would otherwise have been destroyed. To conserve water, the new campus uses 75 percent recycled onpotable water to care for its dense forest and to run other onsite facilities where fresh water isn’t required.

In 2016, Apple opened a new 38-acre campus in Austin, Texas, housing more than 5300 employees. The project is expected to be certified to the Gold level of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system. The development’s environmental design features include LED lighting, high-efficiency water fixtures, stormwater detention ponds and wetland treatment, and native drought-tolerant plants, which will be irrigated using a 600,000-gallon rainwater cistern. Together, the environmental design features are expected to save over 6,692,000 kilowatt-hours, 26,700 therms of energy, and 4,336,200 gallons of water each year, compared to local building code requirements. During construction, 94 percent of building demolition waste was either reused or recycled. In addition, the Austin campus contains a 1.4-megawatt distributed rooftop solar installation, which is anticipated to generate up to 1,959,900 kilowatt-hours of renewable energy each year. Any additional electricity needs will be covered by the local utility’s 100 percent renewable green energy program. The campus’s central plant also makes use of thermal ice storage, making ice at night to be used for daytime cooling, reducing the draw on the power grid during peak times.

Our Renewable Energy Strategy

Renewable energy ownership. Where feasible, we produce our own renewable energy by building our own renewable energy facilities, including solar arrays, wind farms, biogas fuel cells, and micro-hydro generation systems.

Dedicated renewable energy contracts. Where it’s not feasible to build our own generation, we sign long-term renewable energy purchase contracts, supporting new, local projects that meet our robust renewable energy sourcing principles.

Grid purchased renewable energy and environmental attributes. In cases where we aren’t able to create new renewable energy projects ourselves due to local constraints, we directly purchase renewable energy from newer projects in nearby markets, or through available utility green energy programs. When these options are not available, we are willing to procure strong renewable energy credits (RECs) tied to recently constructed renewable energy projects, applying the same rigor to our grid-purchased renewables as we do to our Apple-created renewables. When Apple acquires RECs, we require that they are Green-e Energy certified and come from the same power grid—and preferably the same state—as the Apple facility they support.

Energy Efficiency
An important first step in managing energy use is to ensure our facilities use as little as possible. That’s why we design them for maximum energy efficiency and regularly audit our facility energy use to identify further opportunities for energy optimization.

Our Renewable Energy Sourcing Principles
We encounter many legal and regulatory frameworks around the world that limit our renewable energy supply options. In each location, we endeavor to choose the strongest approach available to us as defined by these guiding principles.

Displacement. We seek to displace more-polluting forms of energy in the same electric grid region as our facilities. We accomplish this by taking power directly from Apple-owned installations and by delivering into the grid an amount of renewable energy equal to the amount of energy we take from that grid.

Additionality. We strive to create new clean energy that adds to the energy sources already delivering to the grid. This generally means participating in renewable energy projects that would not have been built without Apple’s involvement. We make sure that the energy we count toward our goals is not counted toward regulatory obligations that utilities must meet, such as the Renewable Portfolio Standards adopted by many states.

Accountability. We apply rigor in measuring and tracking our energy supply resources, and use third-party registries such as WREGIS and NC-RETS, certification programs such as Green-e Energy, and contractual provisions to ensure that all renewable energy supplied to Apple is supplied only to Apple. When no such system exists, we work with industry partners and governmental entities to create them.

Product Usage

We take responsibility for every watt of power you use on your device.
The energy it takes to run your device during its expected lifespan is added to our carbon footprint. That includes the energy it takes to charge your device, which often comes from carbon-intensive sources such as coal or natural gas. So we’re always developing new ways to make our products as efficient as possible. For example, macOS puts storage media to sleep and runs processors in an ultralow power mode when you’re not hard at work. And when you are, it uses less energy for apps that are open but not visible, and pauses animated website plug-ins until you give the OK. It can even idle the processor to its lowest power state between keystrokes and while the display is on. These energy savings might seem tiny, but when multiplied by every Apple computer in the world, they’re huge.

iMessage, FaceTime, and Siri run on 100 percent renewable energy.
Every time you send an iMessage, make a FaceTime call, ask Siri a question, download a song, or share a photo, it takes energy. We’re proud to say that all those tasks are handled by Apple data servers running on 100 percent renewable energy. All told, in 2015 our data centers avoided 187,000 metric tons of CO₂e emissions. And in 2016, that number grew to more than 330,000 metric tons. When we need additional capacity, we work with third-party data centers. Even though we don’t own these colocation facilities, and share them with other companies, we still
include them in our renewable energy goals. So we’re working with these providers to get them to 100 percent renewable energy too. And we’re proud that in 2016, more than 99 percent of their electricity came from renewable sources.

Each of our data centers has unique design features that reflect the climate and other aspects specific to its location. Our data centers are built with the environment in mind, often including innovative energy efficiency measures. Our data centers in North Carolina, Oregon, and Nevada earned LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council—the highest level possible.

Since 2008, we’ve reduced the average energy consumed by Apple products by 70 percent.
MacBook Pro consumes 15 percent less energy than the previous MacBook Pro models. iMac consumes 97 percent less energy in sleep mode than the first generation. Mac mini consumes 40 percent less power when idle than the previous generation. And you can charge your iPhone 7 once a day for a year for only 61 cents. These advancements are bringing down our overall carbon footprint and your electricity bill at the same time.

Finite Resources

Our goal is a closed-loop supply chain.
Traditional supply chains are linear. Materials are mined, manufactured as products, and often end up in landfills after use. Then the process starts over and more materials are extracted from the earth for new products. We believe our goal should be a closed-loop supply chain, where products are built using only renewable resources or recycled material. We already have programs in place to ensure the finite materials we use in our products are sourced responsibly through strict standards and programs on the ground that drive positive change. We’re also challenging ourselves to one day end our reliance on mining altogether. To start, we’re encouraging more customers to recycle their old devices through Apple Renew. And we’re piloting innovative new recycling techniques, like our line of disassembly robots, so we can put reclaimed materials to better use in new products. It’s an ambitious goal that will require many years of collaboration across multiple Apple teams, our suppliers, and specialty recyclers—but our work is already under way.

To prioritize which materials to tackle first, we created Material Risk Profiles for 44 elements in our products. The profiles identified global environmental, social, and supply risk factors spanning the life of each material. We then combined the risk profiles with data that’s more specific to Apple, like how much of a material we use, how unique our use is, or where we think we can create the most change. The results from our first round of analysis reinforced the need to work on aluminum—which we had already identified as a priority through our carbon footprint work—and on materials like tin and cobalt.

As we embrace the circular economy and embark on this journey, we’re tailoring our approach to the specific properties of each material and how we use it. Each project is a bit different.

For aluminum, we found that one of the best sources of recycled material was our own products and processes. This is because we specify such a high grade of the material—it’s part of what makes our products so strong and durable. Today, the only way to keep aluminum at this level of quality is to keep a clean material stream—not to mix it with existing scrap aluminum, which is what typically happens at recycling facilities. Our challenge is to recover the aluminum from our products without degrading its quality.

That’s why our investments in new recycling technologies are so important. Existing techniques, such as shredding, only recover a few kinds of materials and often diminish their quality. So we invented Liam, a line of robots that can quickly disassemble iPhone 6, sorting its high quality components with the goal of reducing the need to mine more resources from the earth. With two Liam lines up and running, we can take apart up to 2.4 million phones a year. It’s an experiment in recycling technology that’s teaching us a lot, and we hope this kind of thinking will inspire others in our industry.

We’ve already begun using the reclaimed aluminum to build new devices. We took aluminum enclosures Liam recovered from iPhone 6, melted them down, and reused the material to create Mac mini computers that we use in our iPhone final assembly facilities. We wanted to show it was possible to use our own scrap to build new products. Now we’re looking for opportunities to expand this pilot.

For tin, we took a different approach. Unlike aluminum, there is an existing market supply of recycled tin that meets our quality standards. So we are tapping into that supply for iPhone 6s, and now using 100 percent recycled tin for the solder on the main logic board, where the majority of tin in the device is found.

But sourcing isn’t enough—we want to recover as much tin as we’re using and make sure it’s put back into the world’s supply. Unfortunately, tin is not recovered by all electronics recyclers. So we are working to identify tin recyclers and ensure that the material is being consistently recovered and recycled from our products. To start, we are sending iPhone 6 main logic boards recovered by Liam to a recycler who can reclaim the tin in addition to the copper and precious metals. We are now looking for ways to do this on a larger scale for tin—and apply what we’ve learned to other materials. For example, we’re experimenting with ways to recover cobalt from our lithium-ion batteries and use recycled cobalt.

Throughout this process, we’re learning a lot about how to create closed loop supply chains. For some materials, sourcing recycled content will be sufficient as long as we ensure the same amount is recovered, recycled, and put back on the market. Where recycled content isn’t available at the desired quality, we can drive improvements in recycling technologies and a tighter closed loop—such as using material from old Apple devices to build new ones. And when there are materials for which recycling technologies don’t yet exist, we’ll need to invest in research and other technology solutions.

Eliminating Toxins

The worst toxins and what we’ve done about them.

After we identify toxins in our products, we reduce them, remove them, or develop new materials that are safer.These efforts also remove toxins from our manufacturing and recycling processes, which protects workers and keeps pollutants out of the land, air, and water.


The full report can be found here at Apple.

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