Apple Inc. is an American multinational corporation that is in the design and marketing business of consumer electronics, personal computers and computer software. Apple is extremely well known for a number of their hardware products, including the Mac computer line, iPod, iPhone and the recently introduced iPad, as well as the Mac OS X operating system, iTunes, iLife, and iWork. Apple has grown and garnered a unique reputation in the industry of consumer electronics. As one of the leading electronics producers, Apple has worked hard to increase sustainability and be environmentally friendly through a number of highlights and initiatives.
1) Power Management is built Right in. Apple, because they produce both hardware and software, is able to use efficient power supplies, components that require less power, and power management software. For example, the A4 chip in the iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad and Apple TV provides great power while also maximizing the battery life of the product. Apple also develops their own efficient power supplies to decrease the total amount of power waster when providing electricity to the computer from the wall plug. Mac OS X spins down the hard drive and activates the sleep mode when idle.
2) Apple Rated High with ENERGY STAR. Due to all their innovations, all of Apple’s computers go above and beyond the regulated guidelines for energy efficiency as stipulated in the ENERGY STAR Version 5.0 specifications. Apple is currently the only company within the consumer electronics industry that is able to make this claim, due to items such as rechargeable batteries that have a longer life, computer displays requiring less power, and processors that provide great speed with less energy.
3) Reaching EPEAT Gold Standard. All Apple computers sold throughout the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany and France have earned to EPEAT Gold standard. EPEAT stands for “Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool” and it is a widely used and comprehensive environmental standard tool throughout the globe. It evaluates the overall environmental impact of a specific product based on a variety of criteria, such as its recyclability, the total amount of energy the product uses, and its design and manufacturing specifications.
4) Renewable Energy. For over the last ten years, the Apple facility in Austin, Texas has been a major participant in the Austin Energy’s Green Choice Renewable Energy Program. This program has assisted in creating a new market demand for renewable sources of power, including biogas and wind. Currently, the program was introduced to a manufacturing plant in Cork, Ireland as well as a distribution facility located in Elk Grove, California. All the three sites are now 100 percent powered by renewable energy. this has decreased Apple’s total carbon dioxide emissions by 42.2 million pounds.
5) Transportation. Apple has created a new commuter transit program for all facilities in an effort to minimize the total environmental impact of continual travel to and from the facility. Known as the Apple U.S. Commute Alternative Program, the program provides employees with incentives for traveling to work via public transportation and carpooling options. For instance, Apple provides all United States employees with a monthly transit subsidy of up to $100 and encourages carpooling. At a Cupertino, California Plant, Apple reduced single car occupancy usage by providing a variety of shuttle options, such as free bus services from train stations and major metropolitan locations.
6) Waste and Recycling. Apple has created a number of composting and recycling programs to minimize the overall environmental impact of produced waste. For example, the Cupertino, California plant created a composting program in the company cafeteria that diverts all food waste from going to the landfills. As well, most disposable tableware is compostable or biodegradable. Apple is also involved in a number of take-back recycling programs.
7) Toxic substance removal. When it comes to creating green products for Apple, the environmental impact of all the materials used in the manufacturing process need to be taken into consideration, including brominated flame retardants, phthalates, mercury, and polyvinyl chloride. Apple has worked with all their manufacturing partners around the world to get rid of these harmful things from all their products. Numerous components are free of chlorine and elemental bromine. As well, all displays manufactured, no matter if it is a stand-alone or built into a system, features LED backlighting that is mercury-free as well as arsenic-free glass.
8 ) Less Materials Equal Fewer Emissions. Over the last ten years, the designers and engineers at Apple have lead the development of thinner, smaller, and much lighter products. Even though the products are more powerful, they are actually using fewer materials to produce, thereby generating a reduced amount of carbon dioxide emissions. For instance, the current 21.5 inch iMac is extremely powerful and has a larger screen than any of its predecessors, including the 15 inch iMac, but it was designed with 50 percent fewer materials, decreasing carbon dioxide emissions by 35 percent.
9) The Mac Mini and Environmental Friendliness. The Mac Mini is being touted as the most energy efficient desktop computer found anywhere in the world. The power supply only requires 85 watts and is 89 percent efficient. The lower power consumption reduces monthly energy bills and decreases the environmental impact associated with created carbon dioxide emissions. Although it provides users with twice the total processor performance of all previous generation models, it uses less than 13 watts when idle. The OS X spins down hard drives and activates the sleep mode when inactive, decreasing energy use and increasing power-saving capabilities. It has ENERGY STAR qualifications and is made with fewer toxins.
10) Managing Energy Use. For all Apple facilities managing electricity consumption is very important when it comes to reducing carbon dioxide emissions. It also takes pressure off the local power grids and protects the company from increased utility costs. Some of the programs used to decrease energy use include retrofitting all the lighting with energy efficient lamps as well as motion sensors for automatic shut-off, higher-efficient cooling and heating management, and utilizing energy efficient computer products.
Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org