In recent weeks, Apple Inc. made a bold commitment to having a net-zero carbon footprint across its product life cycles and manufacturing supply chains by 2030. The global technology company has released a 10-year roadmap to entirely erase its carbon footprint 20 years sooner than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) targets.
Described in its 2020 Environmental Progress Report, Apple plans to reduce emissions by 75 percent by 2030 while developing carbon removal solutions for the remaining 25 percent of its footprint. “Climate action can be the foundation for a new era of innovative potential, job creation, and durable economic growth,” stated Apple CEO, Tim Cook.
The gravity of this move by Apple is predicated on the immense amount of global emissions it has been responsible for in previous years. According to Bloomberg, “…the $16 trillion company was responsible for 25.1 million metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions in 2019, roughly the same as in 2019 and the same as the annual climate pollution from island nations Cuba and Sri Lanka.” Given the company’s size, scale and influence, Apple certainly plays a pivotal role in shaping standards that drastically impact the environment.
It is important to note that Apple’s facilities — from stores to factories — are already powered entirely by renewables. The bulk of emissions come from suppliers and users of its technology. For example, according to Bloomberg, “About 15% of Apple’s emissions come from users powering Macs and charging iPhones in their homes and offices.” Addressing this issue, Apple’s 10-year road map will be divided into five primary categories: low-carbon product design, expanding energy efficiency, renewable energy, process and material innovations and carbon removal.
As part of its mission to reduce carbon in its products, Apple will increase the use of low carbon and recycled materials in its products, innovate in product recycling and design products to be as energy efficient as possible. This includes the deployment of its recycling robot called “Dave”, which disassembles the Taptic Engine from iPhones in order to better recover key materials, such as rare earth magnets and tungsten.
In regards to increasing energy efficiency, Apple claims to have invested in energy efficiency upgrades to over 6.4 million square feet of new and existing buildings. In addition, they announced an investment of $100 million in accelerated energy efficiency projects for Apple’s suppliers through the US-China Green Fund. Furthermore, Apple plans to partner with nonprofit environmental organizations, such as Conservation International, whose work includes restoring degraded savannas in Kenya and a vital mangrove ecosystem in Colombia.
These are just a few of the directives Apple made in its comprehensive environmental progress report. And, progress has already been made. According to Dezeen, “Last year [Apple] reduced its carbon footprint by 4.3 million metric tons, and reduced emissions from man-made fluorinated gases used in manufacturing that contribute to global warming by 242,000 metric tons.”
Apple is not alone in its fight to mitigate climate change. Recently, Microsoft announced plans to be carbon negative by 2030 and to erase its historical emissions by 2050. Google also announced its goal to have zero emissions by 2030.