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Apple taking environmental lead

Wednesday, 13 February 2019
By Laurel Brunner

100 per cent renewable energy: Apple HQ

The energy used throughout the Apple business, in 43 countries around the world, is now derived from 100 per cent renewable sources.

Apple’s energy comes from a mix of wind, solar, biomass and hydro power, much of it installed by Apple. Energy emissions now make up only 1 per cent of Apple’s carbon footprint. Its efforts have apparently prevented 2.1 million tonnes of CO2-e from entering the atmosphere.

Despite its profound impact on commercial print in the 1980s, and its hardware being used today in virtually every print shop in the world, Apple has not been particularly interested in the graphics business for many years, however it is worthy of attention when it comes to environmental impact reduction. The company is working with its suppliers around the world to encourage more sustainable practices.

The company’s footprint is falling in manufacturing, which accounts for 77 per cent, as well as facilities, transportation and recycling. At the Apple headquarters in California the company has installed a 17 Megawatt rooftop solar farm, and returns the excess to the grid using a combination of battery storage and a microgrid.

And Apple has been working with its suppliers on emissions reduction for a number of years, with 23 of them now actively involved in renewable energy projects with the company. These efforts are expected to account for four Gigawatts of clean power worldwide by 2020, which will be about a third of Apple’s current carbon footprint. The group includes Taiyo Inks a relatively new Japanese chemicals company, also developing printing inks.

Apple is also working to improve recycling, and on average Apple products today use 68 per cent less energy in manufacture and use than they did ten years ago, the company claims. The company has developed a robot for picking apart recycled iPhones, which is all well and good, but maybe they should develop robots for other brands of smartphone too? And maybe Apple could do more locally, for instance to encourage packaging materials and paper recycling, much of which currently ends up in landfill or incinerators. Local initiatives engage consumers far more effectively than remote global efforts. Apple’s relationship with the graphics industry has a long and fertile history. Wouldn’t it be great to see some outreach that processes more materials for recycling, and not just Apple products?

– Laurel Brunner

This article was produced by the Verdigris Project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa Graphics, EFI, Fespa, HP, Kodak, Kornit, Ricoh, Spindrift, Splash PR, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

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