Apple is undergoing a major sustainability makeover that could transform its massive, global supply chain into one of the greenest operations ever seen.
The company has announced a broad range of plans around this effort, including everything from relatively easy changes like acres of responsibly managed forests across China for paper and wood, to far more complicated efforts like shirting all of worldwide operations to 100% renewable energy.
"Forests, like energy, can be renewable resources," said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environmental Initiatives. "We believe we can run on naturally renewable resources and ensure that we protect—and create—as much sustainable working forest as needed to produce the virgin paper in our product packaging. This is an important step toward that goal and our commitment to leave the world better than we found it."
Apple also announced its intent to expand its industry-leading renewable energy projects to manufacturing facilities in China.
"We’ve set an example by greening our data centers, retail stores and corporate offices, and we’re ready to start leading the way toward reducing carbon emissions from manufacturing," said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO in a statement.
"This won’t happen overnight—in fact it will take years—but it’s important work that has to happen, and Apple is in a unique position to take the initiative toward this ambitious goal. It is a responsibility we accept," he added. "We are excited to work with leaders in our supply chain who want to be on the cutting edge of China’s green transformation."
The announcement comes three weeks after Apple launched its first major solar project in China's Sichuan Province, which will one day generate far more energy than needed to power all of Apple’s corporate offices and retail stores in China.
The solar projects were carefully designed to minimize their ecological impact and protect the grasslands that support the yak population, which is also important to the local economy. Today 87 percent of Apple’s global operations run on renewable energy, and the Sichuan Province solar project will bring Apple even closer to its commitment to reach 100%
"Apple’s support for this project and its environmental leadership show that protecting forests is not just good for society but important for business," said Lo Sze Ping, Chief Executive Officer for WWF China.
"This collaboration between our two organizations will seek to reduce China’s ecological footprint by helping produce more wood from responsibly managed forests within its own borders. Doing so is essential to China, the world’s biggest timber importer. Our hope is this will catalyze a new model of corporate leadership in promoting sustainable forest management and using paper resources more efficiently and responsibly around the world."