CUPERTINO, California — Many people interact with at least one of Apple’s products daily. In fact, millions of people rely on an iPhone or iPad for day-to-day tasks. Other people rely on a MacBook for professional and educational purposes. Unfortunately, in most cases, manufacturing millions of electronic devices can cause a significant amount of pollution. While this may be the case, Apple is widely regarded as one of the most environmentally friendly companies in the world. Not only is Apple praised for being environmentally conscious but Apple’s environmentally friendly practices have also benefited the developing world.
Apple Park is a new major headquarters based in Cupertino, CA. It was opened in April 2017 and serves as Apple’s main headquarters. This new building is fueled off of 100 percent renewable energy from solar panels. The new campus also brought in 9,000 newly planted trees and has an on-site garden.
Apple is extremely committed to using renewable energy. In 43 countries, all of Apple’s stores, data centers and office buildings are run off of 100 percent renewable energy. By using renewable energy, less pollution is released from power production such as CO2, which helps environmental conditions. Healthier environmental conditions help developing countries grow their economies and improve life expectancy.
Clean Energy Projects in China
In accordance with Apple’s environmentally friendly practices, massive energy projects are currently underway in China. Unfortunately, China has a significant problem with smog production, largely because of burning large amounts of coal. Apple has taken notice and launched the China Clean Energy Fund, which has invested nearly $300 million towards clean energy.
The fund aims to produce nearly one gigawatt of renewable energy, which could be used to power nearly one million homes. The China Clean Energy Fund will give its participants greater purchasing power and attract more diverse and clean energy solutions. So far, the clean energy project has been successful and will eventually lead to iPhones being completely manufactured with renewable energy by 2020 in Foxconn’s plants.
Another one of Apple’s environmentally friendly practices is eliminating conflict minerals in its products, such as tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold. Apple has also discontinued its relationship with any mineral provider that fails to follow through with its own auditing process. Using conflict-free certified smelters and refiners helps reduce human rights violations in developing countries.
Since many conflict minerals are mined in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, which are mired in war and human rights’ problems, refusing to work with mineral suppliers that instigate violence will help improve human rights in affected countries. It also helps Apple pursue its ambitious goal of using 100 percent recycled materials in its products.
Recycling and Robots
Electronic waste not only ends up in waterways but also in developing nations. Many developing nations will charge low prices for major companies to store waste outside of their home countries. Unfortunately, electronic waste can adversely affect human health and increases toxic waste exposure, which can cause cancer. To help dispose of electronic waste in developing countries, Apple introduced Liam in 2017, a robot that can take apart up to 1.2 million iPhones each year and then separate recyclable components from non-recyclable components.
Apple’s environmentally friendly practices are improving the environment’s overall health. Apple’s policies are also helping developing countries to adopt environmentally friendly energy policies and reduce violence and poverty. Apple, though, will not be able to keep the environment clean on its own. It will take a global effort to ensure that the environment is kept clean while also ensuring that developing nations do not experience those most adverse effects of non-environmentally friendly practices.