Apple believes that through a circular supply chain model it can create the products of tomorrow that “leave their mark on the world instead of the planet.”[i]. It hopes to achieve this in three ways: climate change, smarter chemistry, and resources.
To tackle climate change, Apple has reduced its carbon footprint by 35% since it set itself ambitious goals back in 2015[v]. This reduction, unlike many other measures used by corporations, considers all suppliers and devices. Devices or products is a very interesting point of note, Apple recognises that not only should its operations not damage the environment, but the same should be true of the products it produces. This is why Apple has invested in research to make sure its products are as energy efficient as they can be. This has led to a reduction in the average amount of energy an Apple product consumes by 70% since 2008. This is a trend that continues, with each upgrade of Apple products consuming less and less energy than earlier iterations, with the number of Apple products used in the world the total sum of energy saving is enormous[i].
Since 2011, Apple has reduced carbon emissions from its own operations by 64%[i], which is impressive on its own, but when we consider Apple has grown four times larger since then it becomes all the more astonishing. This also proves that growth does not have to come at the expense of our planet. Companies can continue to thrive without having to emit increasing amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.
Apple has mapped out the chemicals that go into making its products. This helps it to make sure that what goes into the product is safe for us and our planet. Included in this process is not only the chemicals found in the end product, but also the chemicals used by companies in the wider Apple supply chain. Making sure that harmful chemicals are not found in Apple products and in the manufacturing process makes the task of reusing materials and recycling old products much easier. All of this helps towards developing a circular supply chain.
Apple’s mission is to create products with materials that are recycled or renewable. They want to make sure products last as long as possible and the materials which make up their products can be recycled once they reach the end of their life. By reusing the materials from older versions of products, Apple become less reliant on the constant need to use newly mined resources to produce the next generation of Apple products. The list of materials in each individual product is extensive and there are a range of mined and rare earth materials in each one. Apple has mapped out the environment, social, and supply change impacts of each material. This has led to hundreds of thousands of tonnes of material that would have been mined remaining in the ground. Apple is now also recycling more material from each old product than ever before, getting ever closer to establishing a circular supply chain.
Apple has committed to an ambitious challenge but, as one of the most innovative companies on the planet, they are well placed to achieve their environmental goals and continue to provide innovative leadership, not only with their products but also their approach to creating a sustainable future.
Apple is one example of a global company making positive changes to operating in a completely sustainable way, many others are also doing the same.
It is these developments which give hope that we can continue to innovate and grow the global economy, producing exciting future products that enhance people’s lives without sacrificing the planet in the process.
[i] Apple (2020).Our Approach
[ii] Global Footprint Network (2020). Ecological Footprint
[iii] Earth Overshoot Day (2020). About Earth Overshoot Day
[iv] Earth Overshoot Day (2020). Earth Overshoot Day 2019 is July 29, the earliest ever
[v] Apple (2020).Environment
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