Apple Cleans Up Its Act

The tech giant says it has taken big steps toward a cleaner environmental footprint.

View of the famous logo at a new Apple store on Feb. 16, 2014, in Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Apple says its use of renewable energy at corporate buildings worldwide increased by 169 percent between 2010 and 2013.

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Apple abandoned reliance on fossil fuels such as coal to power its data centers and rapidly switched to renewable energy between 2010 and 2013, according to a report from the company on Monday that advocacy group Greenpeace praised as an example of environmental responsibility and corporate transparency that other companies should follow.

Greenpeace has pressured Apple in recent years to clean up its act, and listed the tech giant as the cloud-computing company with the most reliance on coal and the lowest score in clean energy in its 2011 report entitled, “How Dirty is Your Data?”

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Apparently taking that challenge to heart, Apple reported on Monday that between 2010 and 2013, the use of renewable energy increased 169 percent worldwide at its corporate buildings. The company is updating existing facilities, and its new Apple Campus 2 – located in Cupertino, Calif. – will boast 80 percent green space and run completely on renewable energy sources, as the tech giant explained in a video previewing the construction.

“Our goal is to power all Apple corporate offices, retail stores, and data centers entirely with energy from renewable sources – solar, wind, micro‑hydro, and geothermal, which uses heat right from the earth,” Apple said in its report. “As of 2013, we've already converted 73 percent of the energy for all our facilities – 86 percent for our corporate campuses and 100 percent for our data centers. And so far in 2014, we’re powering more than 120 U.S. retail stores with renewable energy.”

Making transportation costs more efficient is another way Apple is trying to reduce its carbon footprint. Developing thinner, more efficient products helps to conserve resources and reduces greenhouse gas emissions related to transportation, the company reported. Electronic waste is also recycled in the areas where Apple’s global offices produce it, rather than money and energy being spent to ship waste overseas, the company said.

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“We’re shipping more and more products per trip, and the savings is adding up,” the company said in its report. “Along with designing the iPhone 5S box to be 41 percent smaller in volume than the first iPhone box, we've also redesigned our iMac packaging.” 

Greenpeace praised Apple’s efforts at reform in its April report entitled, “Clicking Clean: How Companies are Creating the Green Internet.”

“Apple’s commitment to renewable energy has helped set a new bar for the industry, illustrating in very concrete terms that a 100 percent renewable Internet is within its reach, and providing several models of intervention for other companies that want to build a sustainable Internet,” Greenpeace said.

Corrected on April 21, 2014: Previous versions of this article and photo caption incorrectly stated the period during which Apple increased its use of renewable energy at corporate buildings.