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Apple unveils sweeping new commitments to sustainability

The Apple logo hangs above the entrance to the company's Zurich store. Image Credit: Flickr/Niels Epting
The Apple logo hangs above the entrance to the company's Zurich store. Image Credit: Flickr/Niels Epting

Apple has announced an aggressive goal to decarbonize its supply chain by 2030 and committed to build a massive amount of renewable energy across Europe.

The technology giant said it has sourced renewable energy to power its corporate offices, retail stores, and data centers in 44 countries since 2018 and that its suppliers have brought on more than 10 gigawatts of clean power online worldwide.

The goal with its latest buildout on the European continent is to ensure that there's enough renewable power to supply electricity to all Apple devices on the continent.

In all, Apple said it would build roughly 3 terawatt hours of renewable energy capacity in Europe, enough energy to power millions of homes across the continent.

“Fighting climate change remains one of Apple’s most urgent priorities, and moments like this put action to those words,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive officer, in a statement`. “We’re looking forward to continued partnership with our suppliers to make Apple’s supply chain carbon neutral by 2030. Climate action at Apple doesn’t stop at our doors, and in this work, we’re determined to be a ripple in the pond that creates a bigger change.”

The company is also working to reduce emissions among its component suppliers to ensure that they're decarbonizing not only Apple's supply chain, but the supply chain of their other customers as well.

More than 200 suppliers, representing more than 70 percent of the company's direct manufacturing spend committed to using clean power for all of their Apple products. These are big businesses like Corning, Nitto Denko, STMicroelectronics, and the semiconductor manufacturer TSMC.

Apple also touted a new feature that allows customers to optimize charging on their iPhones for clean energy consumption. Part of iOS16, the new feature looks at the sources of the electricity during times when customers will likely charge their phones and optimizes for when the grid is using cleaner energy sources like solar or wind, the company said. .

Finally, Apple also announced three new projects through its Restore Fund, a carbon removal initiative that the company said will generate a financial return while removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

This Restore Fund seems to be funding a few working paper and pulp operations through an investment alongside Conservation International and Goldman Sachs.

The 150,000 acres of harvested timber is complimented by the protection of 100,000 acres of native forests, grasslands, and wetlands, the company said.

Apple expects these forestry projects will be able to remove 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by 2025.

Just to be sure, the company said it would monitor the projects and report on their removal impact.

Apple said it intended to reduce emissions by 75 percent by 2030 and intends to use nature-based solutions to offset the remaining 25% of remaining emissions.

Other big tech companies, including Meta, Alphabet, and Shopify have set up a nearly $1 billion fund alongside McKinsey to fund carbon dioxide removal technologies that permanently store CO2 in geological structures or materials rather than in forestry solutions.

The Frontier Climate Fund has invested in a company genetically modifying trees to capture more carbon dioxide, startups that are treating mining waste with chemicals that can help the waste absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, businesses that heat rocks underground to absorb captured carbon from direct air capture systems, and startups that have solar powered carbon dioxide capture technologies.

Apple's also working with non-profit groups around the world to create new ways to promote sustainability. These projects range from encouraging sustainable farming and natural restoration practices in Namibia and Zimbabwe; forest management work in rural China and developing carbon capture solutions in the nation's megacities; and supporting climate advocates in the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa through a partnership with ChangemakerXchange.

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