Ap­ple prom­ises net zero car­bon emis­sions by 2030

The firm has given it­self one decade to make all its prod­ucts, from end to end, car­bon neu­tral. Ja­son Cross re­ports

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Ap­ple un­veiled an am­bi­tious plan to make its en­tire busi­ness car­bon neu­tral by 2030. Ap­ple’s ‘cor­po­rate emis­sions’ are al­ready car­bon neu­tral, but the im­pact of its of­fices and data cen­tres are small com­pared to all the prod­ucts it makes and sells. This new goal en­com­passes the en­tire busi­ness, in­clud­ing the man­u­fac­tur­ing and sale of all of its prod­ucts, the sup­ply chain for them and even prod­uct end of life.

Given all the global com­pa­nies in­volved in the sup­ply of parts for Ap­ple’s prod­ucts, it’s a very am­bi­tious goal to achieve in a decade. How­ever, it’s worth not­ing that car­bon neu­tral is not the same thing as zero car­bon. Car­bon may be pro­duced some­where in Ap­ple’s busi­ness, as long as the com­pany makes up for it else­where. For ex­am­ple, if the man­u­fac­tur­ing of the dis­plays used in MacBooks pro­duced 100 tons of car­bon per year, but Ap­ple sends enough ex­cess so­lar power to the grid to elim­i­nate 100 tons of car­bon in en­ergy pro­duc­tion, that would be con­sid­ered car­bon neu­tral. Com­pa­nies can pro­duce car­bon emis­sions but still be car­bon neu­tral by pro­duc­ing ex­cess car­bon‑free en­ergy, us­ing car­bon re­moval, buy­ing car­bon cred­its or oth­er­wise off­set­ting the amount of car­bon they pro­duce.

How Ap­ple will get there

In Ap­ple’s press re­lease, it laid out some specifics about how it plans to achieve net zero car­bon emis­sions across its en­tire busi­ness. The aim is to pro­vide a road map that other busi­nesses can fol­low, and help pull the in­dus­try as a whole to a more sus­tain­able fu­ture. In par­tic­u­lar, Ap­ple’s goal for 2030 is to re­duce emis­sions by 75 per cent while us­ing new car­bon re­moval so­lu­tions for the re­main­ing 25 per cent of its foot­print.

Here are the five key ar­eas in which Ap­ple will in­vest in or­der to be­come fully car­bon neu­tral in the next decade.

Low car­bon prod­uct de­sign: Ap­ple is go­ing to use even more re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als in its prod­ucts and in­vest more in ways to dis­as­sem­ble and re­cy­cle its prod­ucts.

Ex­pand­ing en­ergy ef­fi­ciency: Ap­ple will find new ways to use less en­ergy in its own fa­cil­i­ties and also help its sup­ply chain make the same im­prove­ments.

Re­new­able en­ergy: Ap­ple’s own op­er­a­tions al­ready use 100 per cent re­new­able en­ergy, and it will work on mov­ing its en­tire sup­ply chain there.

Process and ma­te­rial in­no­va­tions: Ap­ple is work­ing on mak­ing more of its ma­te­ri­als car­bon‑free, in­clud­ing its sup­port for the first car­bon‑free alu­minium smelt­ing process. The first prod­uct to use this low‑car­bon alu­minium will be the 16in MacBook Pro.

Car­bon re­moval: Ap­ple is in­vest­ing in nat­u­ral projects that re­move car­bon from the at­mos­phere, such as for­est restora­tion.

Ap­ple’s car­bon‑neu­tral prom­ise is am­bi­tious, but it is just that: a prom­ise. No­body is go­ing to levy harsh fines against the com­pany or slap it with penal­ties for miss­ing its tar­gets or aban­don­ing goals. Hav­ing said that, Ap­ple has taken its en­vi­ron­men­tal stew­ard­ship very se­ri­ously of late, and fre­quently shows up near the top of any green com­pany list.

Ap­ple’s data cen­tres al­ready use 100 per cent re­new­able en­ergy

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