Apple Company Review

January 12, 2017

Welcome to the Apple company review. In this series of articles, we put the spotlight on businesses that we think are doing ambitious and honourable things for the environment. These features will cover things like corporate social responsibility, sustainability, green credentials, carbon reduction measures, recycling, reuse and reduction efforts, supply chain responsibility, and more. To provide a fair and balanced account, we will also cover any wrongdoing, environmental damage, or bad practice that we find.

Each category will be scored out of 20, to give a total score out of 100.

This article was written on an Apple product, in-between notification distractions from another Apple product. That’s not just the tale of this writer, that’s a normal situation for many people today, such is the market dominance that Apple experiences on personal computers, mobile phones, smart watches, and more. But, as widespread, loved, and effective as Apple’s products are, are the company themselves doing enough for sustainability, carbon reductions, recycling, and CSR?

We explore.



Score: 20%

All facilities worldwide, including offices, retail stores and data centres, are now powered 100% by clean and renewable energy To date, Apple has committed $2.5 billion in clean energy and energy efficiency projects, like their biogas fuel cell installation in Maiden, North Carolina Products are designed for strength and durability so that they last longer and get more usage Apple’s leading senior sustainability experts speak at some of the world’s leading conferences, in order to share the knowledge and research that they have been doing Read more about Apple’s sustainability efforts here.

Green Credentials

Score: 19%

Apply is a member or partner with all of the following organisations, which are rooted in sustainability, resource efficiency, climate change, and using safer materials. Ceres Corporate Eco Forum World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) GreenBiz Executive Network Paulson Institute Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) RE100 We Mean Business Hawthorn Club to support executive women in the renewable energy industry  Business Environmental Leadership Council of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) Board member of the Green Electricity Consumption Cooperative - to support the use of voluntary renewable energy certificates in China Ellen MacArthur Foundation Aluminum Stewardship Initiative ChemSec Business Group Green America’s Clean Electronics Production Network Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3)

Corporate Social Responsibility Test

Score: 10%

Apple requires their suppliers to comply with their Regulated Substances Specification, which defines restrictions on hundreds of chemicals and substances Apple states that: “The Apple Supplier Code of Conduct details protections for our suppliers’ employees, including proper living conditions, fair working hours and workplace safety. Suppliers are required to inform their employees about these protections when they are hired, and employees are guaranteed safe, anonymous channels to voice concerns if they arise. The Code’s policies and standards apply to our partners at all levels, from material sourcing all the way to manufacturing, and are expected to be upheld even when they exceed local, regional and national laws. In addition to these core protections, we’ve taken further steps, implementing programmes designed to educate and provide opportunities for career advancement.” Apple set up a women’s health education project in India and China, where participants learn about nutritional, maternal and preventive healthcare, and are encouraged to share what they learn with their co-workers, families and friends Apple created the Factory Line Leader Programme with a leading university in China. It provides vocational training — the technical and soft skills necessary to become qualified line leaders — to students who might otherwise be limited to entry-level positions. Graduates are guaranteed an internship with an Apple supplier and full-time employment opportunities Apple works hard to stop ‘bonded labour’ in their supply chain, the act by which people are forced to work in order to repay a debt or a levied fee for receiving the job in the first place On the negative side, Apple’s tax evasion practices have been widely criticised (and subsequently defended by Apple) for many years. The adverse effect of their tax evasion is that the people, schools, hospitals, police force and all other public sector organisations in the countries Apple operates and sells its products in (almost every country), all suffer from missed funds. Read more here. If there was destined to be one area where Apple faltered, it was going to be Corporate Social Responsibility, as the company have made very little in the way of public statements about their CSR intentions. This may change in the future, but for now, it is Apple’s weak link.

Carbon Footprint

Score: 20%

Apple facilities worldwide have been retrofitted and adapted to be powered 100% by renewable energy Apple has a goal of reducing emissions in their supply chain by helping their suppliers switch to clean energy. By 2020, Apple and their suppliers will generate and procure 4 gigawatts of renewable energy to reduce emissions from manufacturing products. That’s equivalent to roughly one-third of their current manufacturing footprint Apple tracks the carbon footprint of their operations, covering hundreds of suppliers, millions of customers, and hundreds of millions of devices Apple looks for ways to make the biggest difference in five major areas: corporate facilities, manufacturing, product use, transportation, and end-of-life processing In 2017, Apple reduced their overall carbon footprint to 27.5 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gases (CO₂e), from 29.5 million metric tonnes in 2016 Altogether, Apple reduced their energy footprint in the fiscal year 2017 by 14.7 million kWh and 225,000 therms Thanks to energy efficiency measures they’ve implemented since 2011, they are now cumulatively saving 70 million kWh of electricity and over 2.4 million therms of natural gas per year Apple’s total transportation emissions fell by 3% in the fiscal year 2017, while at the same time their corporate employee headcount grew by 9% Apple supports remote work (telecommuting) as a method of reducing carbon emissions. This program avoided nearly 23,000 metric tonnes of CO₂ emissions in the fiscal year 2017 - equal to 13% of their employee commute footprint Manufacturing makes up 77% of Apple’s carbon footprint, so they’re sourcing lower-carbon materials, partnering with suppliers to reduce their energy use, and helping those partners switch to renewable energy The project to help suppliers switch to renewable energy since 2015 has been a huge success, with 48 suppliers at 71 facilities making the change. In 2017 alone, the program implemented energy efficiency measures that saved a combined annualized $44.8 million. These measures helped save an annualized 320,000 metric tonnes of CO₂e from entering the atmosphere in 2017 All of the examples above are simply scratching the surface of Apple’s massive efforts to contribute to the sustainability agenda and reduce climate change.

Recycling, Reuse, Reduction

Score: 18%

Creating the next innovation in recycling with Daisy the disassembly robot, which can disassemble up to 200 iPhone devices per month in order to recover more of the valuable materials stored inside. This is part of their commitment to reduce mining and instead recover minerals from old devices In 2017, 22 of Apple’s supplier facilities were certified as Zero Waste, including all iPhone final assembly sites, diverting more than 625,000 metric tonnes of waste from landfills since January 2015 100% of the paper in their packaging is recycled or responsibly sourced Apple were pioneers in removing PVC from power leads, cables, and headphones, which makes them safer to recycle Apple GiveBack lets you recycle Apple devices and devices from Apple-owned brands at any Apple Store and online. They will make sure it’s recycled responsibly or given a chance to be used again, free of charge, and in some cases, in exchange for credit Working on a huge closed-loop recycling project that will result in all products being made from only recycled or renewable materials You can read about these great initiatives and more in Apple’s Environmental Responsibility report.

Total Eco Score

Score: 87%