Pushing its ecological argument further, the American company wants to use more low-carbon materials and accelerate the recycling of its smartphones and computers.
In order to attract a clientele that is increasingly sensitive to environmental conservation arguments, it is necessary to show a green thumb. Apple is taking it one step further with a new plan to reduce its overall carbon footprint to zero. “By 2030, every Apple device sold will have a net-zero climate impact,” promises Lisa Jackson, vice president responsible for environmental, political, and social initiatives. As early as April 2018, Apple announced that it would be operating entirely on renewable energy for its direct operations, offices, and Apple Retail Store. This time, the entire device production and lifecycle is being considered, from mining for components to packaging the finished product for the consumer.
To achieve this new goal, the company is working on several levers: using more low-carbon and recycled materials in its products, innovating in recycling and being more energy-efficient upstream, from the design stage. Its 2020 Environmental Progress Report details its plans to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030 and innovative solutions are being developed to eliminate the remaining 25%.
Regularly criticized for the conditions under which the raw materials used in the manufacture of its products are extracted, Apple says it wants to eventually minimize the use of this stage by recycling as much material as possible in the manufacture of new products.
Dave, the new recycling robot
Among the innovations is a new recycling robot – after Daisy launched in 2018 – nicknamed Dave, capable of dismantling the iPhone’s Taptic Engine (the engine that provides tactile sensations in the form of vibrations to users) to better recover key materials such as rare earth magnets, tungsten, and steel. Apple will also partner with Carnegie-Mellon University to improve engineering in this area.
Achieving this goal also involves improving the technological processes and materials used to manufacture its products: direct fusion of carbon-free aluminum (currently used in the manufacture of the 16-inch MacBook Pro), reduction of fluorinated gases emitted in the production of certain electronic components, etc.
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Apple wants to get its suppliers on board. The American company assures that 70 of its subcontractors are committed to using 100% renewable energy for Apple’s production, for the equivalent of 8 GigaWatts of electricity. If they are met, “these commitments will remove the equivalent in CO2 production of more than 3 million cars from the road,” stresses Lisa Jackson. Apple will help them, in particular through a $100 million investment to finance projects led by the US-China Green Fund, a private equity fund managed for commercial purposes to promote green energy in China. “Part of the investment we are making is working with suppliers to convince their own governments to put more clean energy on the grid,” she says. For Apple CEO Tim Cook, this new commitment goes even further: “Climate action can be the foundation for a new era of potential innovation, job creation, and sustainable economic growth.