Apple has announced its goal to become carbon neutral across its business and manufacturing supply chain by 2030.
The company says this commitment means its devices will have “no climate impact” at the point of sale.
He told BBC News that any company wishing to become a supplier would have to commit to “being 100% renewable for their Apple production” within 10 years.
It follows climate commitments made by other tech giants.
Microsoft has arguably gone further, promising:
- be carbon negative by 2030
- by 2050, have removed the same amount of carbon as it has ever emitted into the environment
He has also just announced the creation of a consortium including Nike, Starbucks and Mercedes-Benz to share information on technologies to reduce carbon emissions.
Amazon has set a 2040 goal of becoming carbon neutral, reflecting the challenges it faces in converting its home delivery vehicles into more environmentally friendly energy sources.
And Google has said it also intends to expand the carbon neutral status it claims for its own operations to encompass its supply chain, but has yet to set a deadline.
Companies often note that their targets are years ahead of the 2050 target of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for net zero carbon dioxide emissions, which the IPCC says is necessary to limit global warming.
But environmental campaign group Greenpeace told BBC News the tech giants are among the most profitable companies in the world and therefore have a responsibility to act quickly.
“I am happy to see that Apple has worked with suppliers to source real renewable energy and that it has not relied on low impact solutions like renewable energy offsetting or credits,” said Elizabeth Jardim, campaign manager for Greenpeace USA.
“But I would like to see how the company is phasing out its dependence on fossil fuels throughout its operations on a short-term schedule.
“Right now, the company has matched data center power demand with renewables and is committed to doing the same for its supply chain.
“But it’s not the same as completely phasing out fossil fuel use. ”
On the other hand, she added, Google was committed to powering its data centers with renewable energy around the clock.
Apple recognizes that its plan involves investments in new environmentally friendly projects as well as the purchase of green energy offsets to offset continued use of carbon-emitting fuels.
It intends to reduce emissions from its current carbon footprint by an additional 75% before the 2030 deadline.
But it highlights the fact that some energy consumption – for example the liquid fuel used in long-haul aviation – cannot be easily traded for a greener alternative.
Rare earth robot
Apple has released a 10-year roadmap detailing some of the actions it plans to take.
These include using a new robot, nicknamed Dave, to salvage Taptic vibrating motor materials from devices returned for recycling.
The part is used to provide haptic feedback to owners of the company’s smartwatches, tablets, smartphones and laptops.
“Once the engine is removed [by another robot] Daisy, Dave will dismantle the engine itself and remove the rare earth elements and tungsten so that they can be reprocessed and put back into supply chains, ”said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s environmental manager.
She said more than 70 of the company’s existing suppliers have already committed to using 100% renewable energy to work on its products by 2030.
“Part of the investment we’re making is working with suppliers to convince their own governments to put more clean energy on the grid,” Jackson added.
Other efforts announced by Apple include:
- increased use of recycled raw materials in its own products
- new solar panel projects in Scandinavia, to power its own data centers
- the development of a carbonless aluminum smelting process as part of a collaboration with two suppliers
- investment in environmental projects including mangrove and shrub restoration works on the Colombian coast and the wooded and grassy savannas in Kenya
- working on environmentally friendly energy projects to benefit local communities, including installing solar panels on the roofs of a facility for underprivileged children in the Philippines and electrifying an off-grid fishing community in Thailand
Carbon neutral v carbon negative
When a company says it’s carbon neutral, it aims to efficiently add no carbon to the atmosphere.
He can do this by:
- balance its emissions, for example by removing one tonne of carbon from the atmosphere for every tonne it produces
- offset its emissions, for example by investing in projects that reduce emissions elsewhere in the world
- do not release greenhouse gases in the first place, for example by switching to renewable energy sources
So far, most companies have focused on offsetting emissions to achieve neutrality.
This often involves funding projects in developing economies to reduce carbon emissions there, such as building hydropower plants, encouraging families to stop using wood stoves, and helping businesses to use them. solar energy. These reductions are then deducted from the main company’s own production.
The result of this slows down carbon emissions rather than reversing them.
To be carbon negative a business actually has to remove more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits.
Microsoft has said it will do so using a range of carbon capture and storage technologies.