Apple cuts carbon footprint by 3%

Apple has reduced its carbon impact by 3% and admits “there’s still a lot of work to be done”

Apple discovered it was under-reporting emissions from manufacturing aluminium (Pic: Flickr/Yutaka Tsutano)

Apple discovered it was under-reporting emissions from manufacturing aluminium used in its products
(Pic: Flickr/Yutaka Tsutano)

By Megan Darby

Apple reduced its carbon footprint by 3% between 2012 and 2013 to 33.8 million tonnes, according to its latest environmental responsibility report.

The consumer electronics giant has won plaudits for its investments in renewable energy at corporate offices, retail stores and data centres.

CEO Tim Cook told investors in April climate change is a “real problem” as he outlined the company’s commitment to environmental improvements.

The modest decrease in Apple’s overall carbon footprint shows those efforts are dwarfed by the impact of its manufacturing, which accounts for nearly three quarters of emissions.

The report says: “We’re striving to reduce that footprint, and we’re making great progress. But there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

Reporting errors

Apple also admitted emissions from manufacturing aluminium to use in its products were nearly four times higher than previously thought. It claimed the earlier assessments were made using “industry-standard methods” but an “extensive survey” of Apple’s suppliers revealed the figures to be inaccurate.

As a result, the reported emissions for 2013 were 9% higher than in 2012. When the 2012 figures were recalculated to correct for under-reporting of aluminium manufacturing emissions, it showed a 3% drop.

Using renewable energy sources, driving energy efficiency, using greener materials and conserving precious resources are identified as Apple’s environmental priorities.

The report cites carbon savings from reduced power consumption of its products, lighter packaging for transport, and greener corporate offices, retail stores and data centres.

It does not provide evidence of any such carbon cutting activity on the energy-intensive manufacturing side, however, much of which takes place in China.

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