Updated: Nov 12, 2021
Apple has made substantial progress once again with its 2030 goal of being carbon neutral across its supply chain and products, announcing that it has more than doubled the number of its suppliers that are committing to using 100% clean energy over the last year.
Apple has now sealed 175 Apple suppliers' commitment to transition to renewable energy, which will bring more than nine gigawatts of clean energy online across the globe. This timely announcement just in time for COP26 means Apple will avoid more than 18 million metric tons of CO2e yearly or the equivalent of taking nearly four million cars off the road each year.
Apple has already achieved carbon neutrality within its own global operations, a strong milestone in tackling their Scope 1 (direct) and part of their Scope 2 (indirect, owned) emissions. But it is Scope 3 (indirect emissions, not owned) emissions that carry a significant portion of a company's impact while being more challenging to measure and improve.
Apple's ambitious plan to achieve carbon neutrality across their supply chain and in their product lifecycle by 2030 recognises that their suppliers are integral to the process. In 2015 Apple started the Supplier Clean Energy Program, successfully bringing 4GW of clean energy online in its supply chain by 2020. It continues to gather momentum in its latest update, with 19 U.S. suppliers in the company’s Supplier Clean Energy Program expanding their renewable energy usage across their Apple operations and even beyond their work with Apple. Meanwhile, 19 suppliers in Europe, 50 suppliers from China and 31 suppliers in Japan, South Korea and India have now joined the program.
Apple's Supplier Clean Energy Program has clearly made commendable progress in attempting to tackle part of its Scope 3s — introducing more transparency to the process, and more importantly, putting money where their mouth is — investing directly in renewable infrastructure and advancements and working in tandem with their suppliers.
But more importantly, it is crucial for big corporations like Apple to use its influence over its suppliers to create ripple effects across the industry amongst players and subcontractors that don’t have the same brand pressure and reputational impact to clean up their operations.
As a part of its new Power For Impact initiative, Apple has also added 10 new projects of its kind to bring clean energy solutions online around the world to under-resourced communities. In Asia, Apple will install 100KW rooftop solar panels at the Jose Rizal Institute in Orion, Bataan in the Philippines and provide solar electricity to 20 schools throughout Vietnam. Meanwhile, Apple’s project in Thailand aims to increase renewable energy production and battery storage to provide reliable 24/7 access to electricity to a community of 400 people in Koh Jik Island. Instead of diesel fuel, solar energy will be used to achieve this goal.
One thing we should not overlook however is while Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions are arguably the least complicated common denominator to measure and report on, the transition to a clean and just world in our global fight against the climate crisis isn’t just about GHGs.
We've previously covered how Apple has reduced its packaging and increased its use of recycled sources of gold, cobalt, aluminium rare earth elements in its products to address part of the environmental and social impacts of production.
But increasing the life cycle of devices and embracing circularity in the treatment of their products will still be a friction point for any consumer goods company. So while Apple has made great strides in the production-side, setting good examples within the industry, we hope to see Apple brave the use cycle even further in the coming years - setting the tone with longer life spans, better repair accessibility and disrupting the norm of yearly upgrades for other tech brands to follow.
Written by Melissa Tan & Sophia Lopez