Monday, 9 September 2013

Summer Brief - Hobby/Interest: Plastic - Packaging (Case Study: Apple)

The story behind Apple’s environmental footprint.

Apple reports environmental impact comprehensively. We do this by focusing on our products: what happens when we design them, what happens when we make them, and what happens when you take them home and use them.

Total Carbon Footprint

For 2012, we estimate that Apple was responsible for 30.9 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.1

How we calculate our carbon footprint.

To accurately measure a company’s environmental footprint, it’s important to look at the impact that company’s products have on the planet. Other companies continue to report only the carbon footprint of their facilities. But we use a comprehensive life cycle analysis approach to determine where our greenhouse gas emissions come from. That means adding up the emissions generated from the manufacturing, transportation, use, and recycling of our products, as well as the emissions generated by our facilities. We know that about 98 percent of Apple’s carbon footprint is directly related to our products. The remaining 2 percent is related to our facilities, including our data centers.

Minimizing the impact of our growth.

We know that the most important thing we can do to reduce our impact on the environment is to improve our products’ environmental performance. That’s why we design them to use less material, ship with smaller packaging, be free of many toxic substances, and be as energy efficient and recyclable as possible. So as we continue to grow faster than the rest of the industry, we’re doing it with products that are friendlier to the environment than ever, and we remain committed to creating products that have the least amount of impact on the environment. Though our revenue has grown, our greenhouse gas emissions per dollar of revenue have decreased by 21.5 percent since 2008. And we’re still the only company in our industry whose entire product line not only meets but exceeds the strict energy guidelines of the ENERGY STAR specification. Learn more about our environmental progress


Manufacturing — includingextraction of raw materials and product assembly — accounts for 61 percent of Apple’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
18,934,000 metric tons of
greenhouse gas emissions

Material use.

Over the past decade, Apple designers and engineers have continued to pioneer new ways to build our products. Manufacturing innovations such as unibody construction have allowed MacBook and iPad products to become thinner while being even more resilient. And the latest iMac features a process called friction-stir welding, which helps enable iMac to use 68 percent less material and also generate 67 percent fewer carbon emissions than earlier generations.

Toxic substance removal.

Designing greener products means considering the environmental impact of the materials used to make them. From the glass, plastic, and metal in our products to the paper and ink in our packaging, our goal is to continue leading the industry in reducing or eliminating environmentally harmful substances.
For decades, the electronics industry commonly used toxic substances such as arsenic, brominated flame retardants (BFRs), mercury, phthalates, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Although most parts of the world still allow the use of these substances, Apple has sought better alternatives. Take AC power cords. For several years, Apple worked closely with material suppliers to develop PVC-free and phthalate-free custom compounds that met high standards for durability, safety, and environmental impact. We then worked with regulators around the world to validate and certify PVC-free power cords, even in regions where standards did not exist. In the majority of our markets, we now offer PVC-free cables, and we will continue to bring these cables to other regions as we receive certifications.
Apple has also eliminated BFRs from thousands of components, putting us years ahead of others in our industry. And we use mercury-free LED backlights and arsenic-free glass in every display we make.
To ensure that our suppliers meet our high standards, we take apart our products in our Cupertino labs. Then we test them using many methods, including X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy and ion chromatography. Our products are also tested by independent laboratories to double-check our results.

Environmentally conscious materials.

In addition to eliminating toxins and designing products with highly recyclable aluminum enclosures, Apple works with environmentally conscious materials including recycled plastics, recycled paper, biopolymers, and vegetable-based inks. We have also found ways to reengineer secondary materials to the high standard of our designs. For example, our fan assemblies in Mac Pro use advanced materials derived from repolymerized plastic bottles. Speaker assemblies and internal brackets in the Apple Thunderbolt Display are made from recycled PC-ABS. In 2012, our latest achievements included the AirPort Express enclosure, which includes biopolymers derived from industrial-grade rapeseed and recycled PC-ABS. And the aluminum stand on the iMac is made using 30 percent recycled content. Our packaging designs for many products use pulp fiber from post-consumer paper streams, and we use vegetable-based inks for in-box materials. And not only are iTunes Gift Cards recyclable, they are made from recycled paper.

Responsible manufacturing.

Apple is committed to ensuring that working conditions in our supply chain are safe, workers are treated with respect and dignity, and manufacturing processes are environmentally responsible. To make sure suppliers adhere to our high standards, we have an aggressive compliance-monitoring program that includes Apple-led factory audits and corrective action plans. In 2012, for example, we conducted a total of 393 audits — a 72 percent increase over the previous year — including 55 specialized environmental audits. View our Supplier Code of Conduct and our supplier audit reports at the Supplier Responsibility site.


Five percent of Apple’s greenhouse gas emissions are a result of transporting our products from assembly locations to distribution hubs in regions where our products are sold.
1,608,000 metric tons of
greenhouse gas emissions

Smaller packaging.

Making thinner, lighter, and more material-efficient products not only reduces their carbon footprint, but it also means that we can ship them in smaller packaging. In fact, we employ teams of design and engineering experts who develop product packaging that’s slim and light yet protective. Efficient packaging design reduces materials and waste, and it also helps reduce the emissions produced during transportation.
For example, the packaging for iPhone 5 is 28 percent smaller than the packaging for the original iPhone shipped in 2007. That means that up to 60 percent more iPhone 5 boxes fit on each shipping pallet and fewer boats and planes are used — resulting in fewer CO2 emissions.

*Calculated using U.S. configurations.

Product Use

The use of our products generates 30 percent of Apple’s total greenhouse gas emissions.3
9,306,000 metric tons of
greenhouse gas emissions

Energy efficiency.

Using a life cycle approach, Apple measures the greenhouse gas emissions associated not only with producing products but also with their use by our customers. We know of no other company in our industry going this far in measuring and disclosing its carbon emissions. Because we design both the hardware and the operating system, we’re able to make sure they work together to conserve power and lessen the amount of greenhouse gases generated. Since 2008, we’ve reduced the average power consumed by Apple products by 40 percent, reflecting our drive to create the world’s most energy-efficient products. And as a result of our emphasis on creating products that consume less energy, the portion of greenhouse gas emissions caused by usage of our products has decreased by 43 percent since 2008.
Here are some examples of how we’re making our products more energy efficient:
Mac mini. Through innovations both big and small, Mac mini uses as little as one-fifth the power consumed by a typical lightbulb.4 It uses even less power than a single 13-watt CFL lightbulb, making Mac mini the most energy-efficient desktop computer in the world.5
iMac. By using highly efficient in-plane switching (IPS) display panel technology and power supplies that are over 90 percent efficient,6 we reduced overall power consumption on the 21.5-inch iMac by half compared to its predecessor.
Apple TV. Using only 2W when streaming HD content, Apple TV consumes 10 times less power than the original Apple TV.
A6 and A5 chips. Apple’s A6 chip in iPhone 5, A6X chip in iPad with Retina display, and A5 chip in iPad mini, iPhone 4S, iPod touch, and Apple TV are further examples of energy-efficient design. Apple engineers created these chips to be extremely powerful yet remarkably energy efficient. With them, your Apple devices can perform complex tasks without sacrificing battery life.
MagSafe power adapters. Our notebook power adapters are some of the most efficient on the market. They consume less than 30 milliwatts when they’re plugged in but not being used. To put that in context, it would take more than 430 power adapters to equal the power consumed by a single 13W CFL lightbulb.

ENERGY STAR qualification.

Unlike other manufacturers that may have one or a few products that are ENERGY STAR qualified, every single Apple product not only meets but exceeds the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s strict ENERGY STAR guidelines for efficiency. We are the only company in our industry that can make this claim.Learn more about energy efficiency

*Calculated while system is idle and has completed loading its operating system; for products with displays, the display is set to its full brightness. Assumes CO2e emissions generated from an average mix of power grids in the U.S. See our Product Environmental Reports for detailed power consumption information by product.


Two percent of Apple’s total greenhouse gas emissions are related to recycling.
538,000 metric tons of
greenhouse gas emissions

Product recyclability.

Apple’s approach to recycling begins in the design stage, where we create compact, efficient products that require less material to produce. And the materials we do use — including arsenic-free glass, high-grade aluminum, and strong polycarbonate — are reclaimed by recyclers for use in new products. Even our product packaging uses recyclable materials wherever possible.

Longer-lasting products.

Apple designs products that last. The built-in battery in our MacBook lineup is a perfect example. It can be charged up to 1000 times.7 And because this battery lasts up to five years, it saves you money you might otherwise have to spend on new batteries, produces less waste, and increases the lifespan of your notebook.

Responsible recycling.

All e-waste collected by Apple-controlled voluntary and regulatory programs worldwide is processed in the region in which it is collected. Nothing is shipped overseas for recycling or disposal. Our recyclers must comply with Apple’s stringent contractual environmental controls as well as all applicable health and safety laws, and Apple does not allow the use of prison labor at any stage of the recycling process. Nor do we allow the disposal of hazardous electronic waste in solid-waste landfills or incinerators. We currently work with 153 partners around the globe whose facilities are evaluated annually on such topics as worker health and safety, environmental compliance, material tracking, and social responsibility.

Apple recycling programs.

Once an Apple product reaches the end of its useful life, we will help you recycle it responsibly. Apple has instituted recycling programs in cities and college campuses in 95 percent of the countries where our products are sold, diverting more than 151,504 metric tons of equipment from landfills since 1994. In regions where we don’t have a formal take-back program, we arrange for pickup, transport, and environmentally sound recycling of end-of-life electronics. Our goal in 2010 was to achieve a worldwide recycling rate of 70 percent. (To calculate this rate, we use a measurement that assumes a seven-year product lifetime. The weight of the materials we recycle each year is compared to the total weight of the products Apple sold seven years earlier.) We met and exceeded that goal in 2010. This far surpasses the last reported numbers from Dell and HP, numbers that were each lower than 20 percent. In 2012, Apple global recycling once again exceeded our 70 percent goal, and we are confident that we will maintain this level through 2015.


Apple’s facilities — including corporate offices, distribution hubs, data centers, and retail stores — account for 2 percent of our total greenhouse gas emissions.
486,000 metric tons of
greenhouse gas emissions

Facilities in the big picture.

Other companies in our industry primarily report on the greenhouse gas emissions associated with their facilities as a gauge of their environmental impact. But switching off lights and recycling office waste aren’t enough. The products we make represent the biggest impact on our environment. That’s why Apple focuses on product design and innovation. Even so, Apple has taken significant steps to lessen greenhouse gas emissions produced by our facilities worldwide.

Clean energy.

We are working toward the goal of net zero — using 100 percent clean, renewable energy at all our facilities and data centers. In many locations, we have already met that goal. We’re constructing new buildings and updating existing ones. We’re installing our own onsite renewable energy sources, including solar arrays and fuel cells. And for the balance of our energy needs, we’re establishing as many long-term contracts with energy suppliers as we are allowed. We have made tremendous progress and have now converted 75 percent of our energy needs at our corporate facilities and data centers to renewable sources.

Data centers.

All of our data centers are energy efficient and 100 percent powered by renewable energy. Our facility in Maiden, North Carolina, opened in 2012 and demonstrates our commitment to reducing the environmental impact of our facilities. The data center earned the coveted LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council — to our knowledge, the only data center of its size and type so honored. And over 60 percent of the renewable energy it uses is generated onsite through the nation’s largest privately owned solar array and the largest operating non-utility fuel cell installation.Learn more about renewable energy at our data centers

Employee commuter programs.

In fiscal year 2012, more than 13,000 employees participated in our Commute Alternatives program — a 30 percent increase year over year — and commuted to work using transit options that have reduced traffic, smog, and CO2e emissions associated with the use of single-occupancy vehicles. This includes more than 1600 Cupertino-based Apple employees who ride to work daily on free biodiesel commuter coaches and shuttles. Employees in Cupertino also helped prevent more than 102,500 kg of CO2e emissions by using electric vehicle charging stations, and they took more than 50,000 trips on Apple’s shared bicycles in 2012.

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