Apple Inc. announced this week that 93% of its global facilities now run on renewable energy, while unveiling Liam, a “nifty new recycling robot” that recovers valuable metals like cobalt, lithium, gold, silver, and platinum from used iPhones, Greentech Media reports.
“Think for a second about what that means,” said Lisa Jackson, the company’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, and former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “It means every time you send an iMessage or make a FaceTime video call or ask Siri a question, you can feel really good about reducing your impact on the environment.”
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Jackson said Apple’s operations run on 100% renewable energy in 23 countries, including the United States and China. Highlights include a 40-megawatt solar project in China’s Sichuan province and an $848-million, 25-year power purchase agreement with First Solar’s California Flats Solar Project in Monterey County.
“All of this sounds nice in theory, but in reality, Apple’s environmental footprint is much, much bigger than the buildings it owns. Facilities make up just 1% of Apple’s overall carbon footprint, according to the electronics giant’s latest sustainability report,” writes Greentech’s Julia Pyper.
Last fall, to get a start on its supply chain emissions, Apple announced two gigawatts of clean energy procurement in partnership with suppliers like Foxconn.
In 2014, Mashable reports, Apple produced 34.2 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, including 24.8 Mt from manufacturing and only 400 kilotonnes from offices and stores. Moreover, “by constantly rolling out new products and encouraging consumers to trade in their not-so-old phones for new, upgraded ones, Apple is contributing to a consumerism that may be difficult to ever neutralize from a carbon standpoint,” notes correspondent Andrew Freedman.
“A new phone can be built in a solar-powered factory, but it is still shipped by a plane powered by fossil fuels, and charged in many electric grids that are powered by coal or natural gas, especially in developing countries.”
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