Greenpeace Gives Apple a B- in ‘Guide to Greener Electronics’

Greenpeace today published its Guide to Greener Electronics, which provides insight into the environmental practices of 17 major companies including Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Sony, Samsung, and more.

Among all of the companies Greenpeace evaluated for energy, resource consumption, and chemicals, Apple received the second best marks, trailing behind only Fairphone, a device designed with minimal environmental impact in mind.


Apple was lauded for its commitment to renewable energy and reducing supply chain emissions and its efforts to be transparent about the chemicals that are used in its products.

According to Greenpeace, Apple is the only company to have set a renewable energy goal for its supply chain, and several of its suppliers have already committed to using 100 percent renewable energy.

Apple is also committed to renewable energy at its own facilities and is ultimately aiming for a closed-loop supply chain. As for chemicals, Apple is one of two companies (along with Google) that have eliminated all brominated flame retardants and polyvinyl chloride.

Apple's overall Greenpeace "grade" was a B-, but broken down, the company received an A- for the aforementioned environmental efforts, a B for chemicals, and a C for resources, due in large part to the lack of repairability of its devices and its use of proprietary parts.

Apple continues to design products with proprietary parts to limit access and actively lobbies against right to repair legislation in New York and Nebraska.

It is reported that Apple and Sony have blocked attempts to strengthen environmental electronics standards that would encourage device designs that are easier to repair, upgrade, and disassemble for recycling.
Greenpeace has previously targeted Apple in a repairability campaign to combat planned obsolescence, accusing Apple's difficult-to-repair devices of shortening device lifespan and leading to more electronic waste. Apple is not likely to make changes to the way its devices are manufactured to make them easier for third-parties to repair, but its efforts towards a closed-loop supply chain could eventually result in far less waste.

Earlier this year, in Greenpeace's annual green report, Apple was ranked the most environmentally friendly technology company in the world. That report focused on factors like energy transparency, energy efficiency, renewable energy commitment, and advocacy.

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Apple Shares Meticulous Steps Taken to Ensure iPhone Packaging is Environmentally Friendly

Apple has shared a new Paper and Packaging Strategy white paper, outlining steps the company takes to reduce its paper impact by using paper more efficiently, sourcing it responsibly, and protecting or creating sustainable working forests.

iPhone 7 packaging

To protect the environment for the future, Apple said three priorities guide its efforts:

1. Reduce impact on climate change by using renewable energy sources and driving energy efficiency in products and facilities.

2. Conserve precious resources by using materials efficiently, using more recycled and renewable content in products, and recovering material from products at the end of their life.

3. Identify, develop, and utilize safer materials in products and processes.

The change in iPhone packaging from iPhone 6s to iPhone 7 illustrates the significant impact of Apple's efforts.


While the iPhone 6s packaging included two stacked plastic trays that hold the device and accessories separately, Apple came up with a new design for the iPhone 7 packaging that allows a single tray to do the work of two. Eliminating the second tray significantly reduced the packaging's material footprint.

Apple's environmental teams also found a fiber-based material that could be used to make the trays, replacing the petroleum-based plastic previously used. The white paper says a similar exploration of new materials and design led to innovations in the EarPods carrier, further reducing the use of materials.

For the iPhone 6s, Apple designed a plastic EarPods carrying case that discreetly wraps the cables and holds the headphones in place. For the iPhone 7, however, Apple developed a more environmentally friendly paperboard-based solution with a set of folds and cuts that secure the EarPods and cable.

These changes contributed to an 84 percent decrease in plastic usage for iPhone 7 packaging compared with iPhone 6s, according to Apple.

For the iPhone 8, Apple even sourced a more environmentally friendly alternative to the plastic wrap that protects the iPhone's wall charger. Apple's white paper reveals the meticulous steps it took to achieve this feat, which involved working directly with a supplier to alter aspects of the manufacturing process.
Finding a fiber alternative proved challenging since fiber naturally expands and contracts with changes in humidity. The significant number of suppliers and locations through which the power adapter wrap would pass made controlling the humidity of the environment impossible. This required Apple to take a very hands-on approach, working directly with the supplier to alter aspects of the manufacturing process to create a fiber wrap that would meet technical needs. While the power adapter wrap is a small piece of the iPhone packaging, it represents a significant amount of material given the number of iPhone units sold.
Ultimately, Apple said it hopes that its program highlights a process for others to take responsibility for their impact on global resources, and work with external stakeholders to protect the environment.


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Apple and Other Tech Companies Accused of ‘Weakening’ Green Electronics Standards

In a new 45 page report by Mark Schaffer of Repair.org, Apple, Sony, and other tech industry companies have been targeted as the reason behind lagging green electronics standards in the United States, which are meant to establish an overall set of environmental leadership specifications for the design, usage, and end-of-life phases of electronic devices.

According to Repair.org, Apple and companies like it consistently output products with extremely low repairability scores, and often fail to meet quality green electronics standards.


The report said that this is mostly because these tech companies "hold so many positions" on the boards of green electronics standards that they can vote and resist changes they see as potentially unfavorable for their product development. This has caused the standards to become "increasingly ineffectual," making them hard to update and unable to keep up with the fast-paced advancements in the technology that they are written for.
“Green standards in the US play an important role. They are supposed to shape the electronics industry for the better and encourage manufacturers to make more sustainable products. As consumers, we should be able to trust them to identify only the most sustainable products,” says Gay Gordon-Byrne, Executive Director of Repair.org. “Instead, members of the IT industry have co-opted standards for their own benefit, warping them into a tool that drives sales at the expense of the environment. This is patently unacceptable, and it needs to change.”

Manufacturers including Apple, Blackberry, and Sony have consistently blocked meaningful criteria that would influence their product design, including strong incentives to encourage design for repair or recycling.
In the report, Repair.org looks at the repair/reuse criteria included in the UL 110 standard for cell phones, which was approved in early 2017 and "contains some repair criteria and optional requirements for battery removability without tools." Apple and Samsung were able to claim the highest "gold" ratings for the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S8 right off the bat when the standard went live in July, which the report called "troubling." Repair.org explained that a "properly developed" standard should see newly claimed devices barely able to achieve a lower "bronze" rating, and have to work their way up the standard.

Under a section called "manufacturers oppose leadership standards," the report delves more into Apple's refusal to comply with the support of standardized tools that could be used to disassemble their products. Despite Apple's voting against such a rule, it's said that enough companies decided to vote in favor of this section of UL 110.
The only effective, repair-focused language in UL 110 is an optional criterion that awards manufacturers extra points for batteries that can be removed without the use of tools. It is the only repair-related criterion in the UL 110 standard that incentivizes a different design. Still, one manufacturer steadfastly opposed this proposal and refused to vote for its inclusion in the standard: Apple. Ultimately, this was one of the few instances in which manufacturers broke ranks. Enough device-makers voted to have the optional criterion included in the recently published version of the standard.
Still, the UL 110 standard's various sections -- including end-of-life, reuse, and recycle -- are described as "watered down" and "neutered" to the point that device makers don't have to alter the course of EOL practices that they've been following in previous years. The report then lists a few common arguments manufacturers have given for their actions, including public safety concerns if at-home repair was widely supported, easily accessible authorized repair centers, and more, all of which Repair.org refutes.

Apple has long been a proponent of environmental protection and action in its position as one of the biggest device makers on the planet. This past April, the company released its 2017 Environmental Responsibility Report and announced its goal to set up a "closed-loop supply chain," which would drastically reduce global electronics waste by building new Apple products using only recycled materials, including old Apple products.


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Apple Shares New Earth Day Ad in Late July

Earth Day was over three months ago, on April 22, yet Apple today uploaded another quirky Earth Day video outlining the company's plan to ensure almost one million acres of forests are responsibly managed by 2020.


The one-minute ad was shared on Apple's own YouTube channel today, and later tweeted by Apple's environmental chief Lisa Jackson.

Apple's 2017 Earth Day video campaign began around the annual event in late April, but Apple uploaded another video in late May and now one in late July. Apple's environmental efforts are commendable, so we'll let it slide.


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Apple Adds Phobio as New Mac Trade-In Partner

Apple today updated its Mac recycling program to partner with a new company, replacing longtime partner PowerOn with Phobio, a company that promises a seamless device buyback program. Apple's recycling program is designed to offer Apple users cash for their old devices by providing simple trade-in options.

Starting today, when you use Apple's Renew and Recycling program to recycle a Mac desktop or notebook, Apple will now direct you to Phobio's site where you can find your Mac by entering a serial number. After answering a couple of questions about condition, Phobio offers up a price estimate and lets users choose an Apple Store Gift Card, Paypal, or Virtual Visa Reward as a payment option.


According to a source that spoke to MacRumors about the partnership change, Apple opted to go with Phobio because the site offers higher trade-in values, is easier to navigate, and provides an option for cash payments alongside Apple Store Gift Cards, something that wasn't available via PowerOn.

Based on our testing, Phobio and PowerOn offer similar trade-in values for many machines, with PowerOn offering a slight edge in value for newer Macs, while Phobio seems to have slightly better pricing for some older models.

Apple is only partnering with Phobio for Mac trade-ins at the current time. For PC trade-ins, Apple continues to work with PowerOn, and for iPad and iPhone trade-ins, Apple is still using longtime partner Brightstar.


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Apple Issues $1 Billion Green Bond Sale to Fund Renewable Energy

Apple today issued a $1 billion green bond to fund renewable energy generation, according to Bloomberg.


Apple reportedly said it plans to use the proceeds to finance projects involving renewable energy resources and energy efficiency, including advancing its goal of achieving a closed-loop supply chain, through which products are made using only renewable resources and recycled material.

By turning to the debt market, Apple is able to fund its sustainability initiatives without tapping into its offshore cash reserves. Those dollars would be subjected to a 35 percent corporate tax rate if they were repatriated in the United States.

U.S. President Donald Trump has reportedly proposed offering a one-time tax holiday where companies like Apple can repatriate large amounts of foreign cash at a reduced tax rate of between 10 and 15 percent. But, as of this month, the relevant corporate tax laws have yet to be reformed in the country.

Apple's bond offering comes just two weeks after Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris climate accord, an agreement signed by over 140 countries that vow to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to mitigate climate change. Apple CEO Tim Cook said Trump's decision was "wrong for our planet."

An excerpt of Cook's internal memo to Apple employees:
Climate change is real and we all share a responsibility to fight it. I want to reassure you that today's developments will have no impact on Apple's efforts to protect the environment. We power nearly all of our operations with renewable energy, which we believe is an example of something that's good for our planet and makes good business sense as well.
Apple's preliminary prospectus supplement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission today confirms the bonds will mature in 2027. The sale was arranged by Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and J.P. Morgan.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook Urges U.S. President to Stay in Paris Climate Pact

Amid rumors suggesting U.S. President Donald Trump plans to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, multiple tech CEOs have been urging him not to do so, reports Bloomberg.

On Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook called the White House to ask the president not to abandon the agreement, which is a 195-nation pact committed to cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions and reducing global warming. Under the terms of the pact, the United States commits to reducing carbon emissions by 26 to 28 percent over the course of the next decade.

Apple CEO Tim Cook at the Executive Tech Summit at Trump Tower in December of 2016

Trump, who said he opposes "draconian climate rules" during his presidential campaign, announced this morning that he would make his decision on the accord "over the next few days." Officials who spoke to the New York Times said a decision has not yet been made, but Trump is expected to withdraw on the grounds that the accord would harm the economy and impact job creation in areas like Appalachia and the West.

A senior White House official cautioned that the specific language of the president's expected announcement was still in flux Wednesday morning. The official said the withdrawal might be accompanied by legal caveats that will shape the impact of Mr. Trump's decision.
Over the course of the last several years, Apple has become increasingly committed to reducing its environmental impact and running its business on 100 percent renewable energy. Most recently, Apple announced plans to pursue a closed-loop supply chain where its products would be built entirely from recyclable materials.


Along with Cook, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has asked Trump not to withdraw the United States from the Paris Accord. In a tweet, Musk said he's done all he can to influence Trump's decision, and in a followup tweet, Musk said he would leave the White House advisory councils he participates in should Trump choose to leave the accord.

Many other White House officials and companies are attempting to persuade Trump before he makes a final decision. In early May, CEOs from 30 companies sent an open letter pointing out the potential for negative trade implications should the U.S. exit the Paris agreement, and on Thursday, 25 major companies, including Intel, Apple, Google, Microsoft, will publish a full-page pro-accord letter in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

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Apple Releases New Earth Day Video at Sustainable Brands Event

Apple today shared a new Earth Day 2017 video on its YouTube channel, which comes more than a month after Earth Day took place.

The video, which follows the theme of the previous Earth Day spots Apple released, focuses on Liam, Apple's recycling robot that strips iPhones down to their component parts.


The ad was created by Apple environment lead Lisa Jackson and her team to mark Apple's attendance at Sustainable Brands 2017, a Detroit conference for business leaders committed to brand value creation through sustainability.

Sarah Chandler, Apple's Director of Operations and Environmental Initiatives, was in Detroit to speak at the event, where she talked about Apple's latest pledge to achieve a closed-loop supply chain. Chandler works under Lisa Jackson and is responsible for Apple's effort to use greener materials, conserve finite resources, and reduce the environmental impact of the company's supply chain.


Apple first announced its goal to use 100 percent recycled materials for products ahead of Earth Day, with the publishing of its 2017 Environmental Responsibility Report. Apple's eventual goal is to stop mining the earth for rare minerals and metals by focusing more heavily on recycled products.

"We're actually doing something we rarely do, which is announce a goal before we've figured out how to do it," Lisa Jackson said in April. "So we're a little nervous, but we also think it's really important, because as a sector we believe it's where technology should be going."

Liam, the robot featured in today's extra Earth Day video, will play an important role helping Apple reach its goal. Apple plans to double down on technologies like Liam, as well as put more effort into emphasizing its Apple Renew recycling program.


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Apple Pledges to End Mining and Use 100% Recycled Materials for Products

Just ahead of Earth Day, Apple has released its 2017 Environmental Responsibility Report [PDF] with a lofty new goal: ending mining. Apple says the company is working on a "closed-loop supply chain" that would allow it to stop mining the earth for rare minerals and metals.

"One day, we'd like to be able to build new products with just recycled materials, including your old products," Apple says on its updated Environment site. In an interview with VICE, Apple vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives Lisa Jackson commented on the mining plan, saying "it's where technology should be going."

"We're actually doing something we rarely do, which is announce a goal before we've completely figured out how to do it," Apple's Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives and a former head of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, told VICE News during an exclusive visit to Apple's environmental testing lab on Monday. "So we're a little nervous, but we also think it's really important, because as a sector we believe it's where technology should be going.
Much of what goes into an iPhone isn't recycled, but Apple wants to change that by more aggressively using components taken from old iPhones and combining that with "high quality recycled metals" purchased from suppliers. Apple will double down on investments like Liam, the robot that breaks iPhones down into component parts, and it plans to continue to encourage customers to return products through the Apple Renew recycling program.


While Apple plans to source more of its materials from recycled goods, Jackson says that though a "product that lasts is really important," the company doesn't have plans to make its devices easier to repair to increase longevity.
Jackson also defended Apple's history of making products that are hard to repair. Allowing customers to repair Apple products themselves "sounds like an easy thing to say," she said. But "technology is really complex; it is sophisticated to make it work, to ensure that you have security and privacy, [and] that somebody isn't giving you bad parts."

Because of this, Apple won't be taking a "right to repair" approach to meeting its environmental goals. "All those things mean that you want to have certified repairs," Jackson said.
Other environmental milestones are also outlined in Apple's report. 96 percent of the power used by Apple facilities around the world comes from clean energy sources, and as has been the case for several years, 100 percent of the electricity that powers Apple data centers comes from solar, hydro, and wind energy sources.


Apple now has seven suppliers that have committed to using renewable energy, and the company plans to help suppliers bring 4 gigawatts of renewable power online by 2020.


When it comes to packaging, more than 99 percent of the packaging used for Apple products is responsibly sourced. Virgin paper is sourced from protected sustainable forests, and the company has successfully protected or created enough working forests to cover all of its packaging needs.

Lisa Jackson's full comments on the 2017 environmental report can be read over at VICE, and Apple's full Environmental Responsibility Report, which goes into much more detail on its recycling efforts, packaging, water usage, and carbon footprint, is available here.


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Three More Apple Suppliers Commit to Using 100 Percent Renewable Energy

Three additional Apple suppliers, including Compal Electronics, Sunwoda Electronic, and Biel Crystal Manufactory, have promised to use 100 percent renewable energy when manufacturing iPhone components, Apple VP of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson told Bloomberg in an interview.

96 percent of the energy Apple uses comes from renewable sources like wind and solar, allowing the company to reduce its carbon footprint, and in 26 countries, Apple facilities are powered with 100 percent renewable energy. With much of its own company using renewable energy, Apple has started focusing on its suppliers to further its sustainability efforts.

"We look at our carbon footprint as so much more than just our office, our data centers, our stores, even our distribution centers," Jackson told Bloomberg Television. "All that's included in our 96 percent, but now we're moving onto our supply chain."
Late last month, Apple promised to honor the commitment it made under the Obama administration to fight climate change, and today, Jackson said Apple plans to continue on its path and make its values known to the Trump administration, which has started to rescind environmental rules and protections.
"One thing this administration has made clear is that they want to hear from business and so we're going to do everything we can to make our values known," Jackson said.
Along with Compal Electronics, Sunwoda Electronic, and Biel Crystal Manufactory, four other suppliers have committed to using clean energy: Lens Technology, Solvay Specialty Polymers, Catcher Technology, and Ibiden. In March, Apple said that by the end of 2018, the company and its supplier partners expect to generate more than 2.5 billion kilowatt hours of clean energy per year.

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