In its first fiscal quarter of 2017, Apple sold 78.3 million iPhones, 13.1 million iPads, and 5.4 billion Macs. The sales no doubt led to a handsome profit. In fact, Apple ranked as the highest valued company in the world over that time period (and many fiscal quarters preceding it).
But you could also imagine a staggering amount of waste, considering the plethora of parts and packaging required to make the gadgets function and maintain the company’s aesthetic. Thankfully, at least some of that waste has been mitigated due to Apple’s efforts at their final assembly sites in China, for which the tech giant recently attained UL’s 100% Zero Waste to Landfill validation.
Close collaboration helps lead to zero waste
UL is a consulting company that works with corporations to enhance safety and sustainability. They offer three validations for waste. After the top validation received by Apple, there is Virtually Zero Waste to Landfill (98% diversion rate) and Landfill Waste Diversion (80% and above). In 2016 Apple achieved the Landfill Waste Diversion with 87%.
According to Environmental Leader, Apple worked closely with sites that were particularly problematic, like the final assembly supplier Tech-Com. They helped Tech-Com recycle 100 percent of its manufacturing waste and collaborated on the best way to manage food waste through a local composter.
Apple embraces innovative sustainability practices
In addition to their efforts to reduce waste, Apple’s facilities strove to implement better water management. The company’s clean water program saved over 3.8 billion gallons of freshwater in 2016 and an impressive eight billion gallons of water since 2013.
Also, they tripled the amount of suppliers taking advantage of their renewable energy program in 2016. The influx in participation allowed them to reduce a whopping 150,000 metric tons of carbon emissions.
The hope is that by 2018 its largest suppliers will rely exclusively on renewable energy.
And as the company states, the impact extends beyond their suppliers’ walls.
“This work has strengthened local recycling networks, redesigned processes to close-loop consumable materials, increased the use of recyclable and reusable materials, and generated interest among component suppliers to follow suit.”
Considering Apple doesn’t seem to be going anywhere (as I type this on my Macbook), I can’t help but hope they truly are doing all that they can to reduce waste and be sustainable.
As consumers we should cautiously applaud the efforts they have taken while continuing to push them to do more.