“With great power comes great responsibility”. This line is apt to describe Apple Inc, the highest valued company in the world at present, because of its recent initiatives towards sustainable development and conservation of environment all over the world, especially in China.
In its continued efforts to conserve forests, Apple Inc has announced a multi-year partnership with World Wildlife Foundation China to protect as many as 1 million acres of forests across the country which provide fiber for pulp, paper and wood products, commonly used in packaging material of supply-chain companies including Apple.
Apple’s goal is to achieve a “net-zero impact on the world’s supply of sustainable virgin fiber and power all its operations worldwide on 100 percent renewable energy.”
Under the partnership, none of the two organizations will buy the forest land but instead work with farm owners to develop sustainable methods to conserve land. Apple is going to fund the operations of this 5 year project with WWF which will work with local governments and organizations in China to identify and manage suitable tracts of land.
Kitty Potter, a Beijing-based spokeswoman for Apple said,
WWF will work with groups in Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hunan and Yunan
The announcement was first made public on Chinese micro blogging platform Weibo (yes, he just joined in there) by Apple CEO Tim Cook who was in Beijing to finalize these environment initiatives. “Happy to be back in Beijing, announcing innovative new environmental programs,” Cook wrote in a post that attracted over 23,000 comments with his account garnering more than 216,000 followers on its debut day.
The partnership is a part of Apple’s ambitious vision of running all its operations on renewable energy including its supply chain operations which rely heavily on forest for packaging material.
Though currently 87% of Apple’s global operations already run on renewable energy, which include its offices, data centres and stores; including the supply chain it will require some 60 times more power to come from renewable sources such as wind, solar, biogas, geothermal, and hydropower.
The multinational is now also looking to green up its manufacturing processes as well. Highlighting his company’s green initiatives, Tim Cook said in a prepared statement,
We’ve set an example by greening our data centres, retail stores and corporate offices, and we’re ready to start leading the way toward reducing carbon emissions from manufacturing, 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. We are excited to work with leaders in our supply chain who want to be on the cutting edge of China’s green transformation.
These environmental initiatives by the tech giant have particularly been boosted by Lisa Jackson, the former Environmental Protection Agency Chief and Apple’s current vice president of Environmental Initiatives.
In recent months, Apple has taken a number of initiatives particularly in China which is the manufacturing hub of core elements for Apple products; the second highest market for Apple after US (with iPhone sales increasing by 71% in last quarter) and also the most polluting country in the world (responsible for almost 25% of global carbon emissions, according to data from the World Bank).
In addition to this, Apple directly employs about 8,000 people in China at present and has helped create over three million jobs. The Cupertino giant recently became China’s leading smartphone maker by market share, as per latest IDC reports.
As per WWF’s reports, China ranks among the largest consumers and producers of paper products, therefore, the need to restore the environment’s natural resources remains imperative.
Lo Sze Ping, Chief Executive Officer for WWF China said,
Apple’s support for this project and its environmental leadership show that protecting forests is not just good for society but important for business. 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.
Three weeks ago in April, Apple also announced partnership with SunCorp and other renewable energy organizations in China like Leshan Electric Power Co. , to establish two new 20-megawatt solar farms in China’s Sinchuan Province which are set to generate about 80 million kilowatt hours per year energy which the company claims to be “far more energy than needed to power all of Apple’s corporate offices and retail stores in China” helping to fulfill its vision of becoming self-sustainable manufacturing giant and brining its carbon emissions down to zero.
Going Green Globally
It is noteworthy that it is not just China where Apple is working on environment and renewable energy projects. Solar farms in California, hydro-electric turbines in Oregon and data centers in Europe are among other environmental projects announced by the world’s most valuable company.
In February, Apple announced that it was spending $2 billion in building 2 renewably-powered data centers in Ireland and Denmark. Apple also recently bought 36,000 acres of private forestland in Maine and North Carolina with the Conservation Fund as part of a commitment to get 100% of paper packaging from renewable sources.