“Businesses have a profound opportunity to help build a more sustainable future, one born of our common concern for the planet we share”. That statement was given by Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, while unveiling Apple’s plan to become carbon neutral across its entire business, manufacturing supply chain, and product life cycle by 2030. The company is already carbon neutral today for its global corporate operations, and this new commitment means that by 2030, every Apple device sold will have a net-zero climate impact.
For showing such level of ambition in pledging to hit such a target by the end of this decade, the company received ample global press coverage. Here are some key numbers in Apple’s sustainability report that make the plan a lot more interesting.
#1 In 2019, the company was responsible for 25.1 million metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions, almost same as in 2018 and the same as the annual climate pollution from Cuba and Sri Lanka. Since 2015, the company reduced emissions by 35%.
#2 The company’s own electricity needs are already entirely served by renewables, meaning that less than 1% of the company’s emissions are generated by its facilities or the plants powering those facilities.
Therefore, Apple’s new climate commitment is almost entirely about its Scope 3 emissions. All other indirect emissions that occur in a company’s value chain, including upstream and downstream activities is categorized in Scope 3 emissions. Any company has the least amount of control over because they are generated by suppliers and users.
#3 Nearly 15% of Apple’s emissions come from users powering their Macbooks and charging iPhones. The company can’t force the users to switch to carbon-free energy—at best, it can make the device energy-efficient, so it consumes less power.
Also, Apple has promised to ensure that most of its largest suppliers will deploy energy efficiency measures and switch to 100% renewable energy within the decade because a large chunk of emission comes from manufacturing, which Apple outsourced mostly in Asia.
#4 In 2015, accumulating and processing aluminum represented 27 % of the company’s product manufacturing footprint. The company started smelting the same using hydroelectricity rather than fossil fuels like coal and also re-engineered the manufacturing process to reincorporate aluminum scrap. As a result of these initiatives, a 63 % decrease in Apple’s aluminum carbon footprint compared to 2015 were recorded.
Another company with a more ambitious climate goal is Microsoft, which plans to be carbon-ve by 2030 and to erase the company’s historical emissions by 2050.
#5 Daisy, a disassembly robot can disassemble 15 different models of iPhone into discrete components so that recyclers can recover more materials and at a higher quality than traditional recycling techniques. The company heavily aimed to make products and packaging using only recycled or renewable materials.
#6 Apple is investing in forests and other nature-based solutions around the world to remove carbon from the atmosphere. The company also announced to invest in the restoration and protection of forests and natural ecosystems globally.
“We’re proud of our environmental journey and the ambitious roadmap we have set for the future,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives. “We have a generational opportunity to help build a greener and more just economy, one where we develop whole new industries in the pursuit of giving the next generation a planet worth calling home.”