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Apple is Taking Its Environmental Responsibilities Seriously with These Two Great New Initiatives

The impact of production on the environment has been brought into sharp focus in recent years, with pressure mounting on manufacturers to find green alternatives to their processes. Apple is the latest big brand to step into this arena with two new environmentally friendly innovations.

China Clean Energy Fund

The first of Apple’s new environmentally friendly innovations is a joint venture together with ten of its supply chain partners with the goal of reducing the company’s reliance on non-renewable energy, and addressing the challenges presented by climate change.

Apple and the ten suppliers taking part will, over the next four years, invest close to $300 million into the China Clean Energy Fund. The fund will invest in and develop clean energy solutions with an output of more than a gigawatt of renewable energy, the equivalent of powering nearly one million residential homes.

The announcement follows Apple’s news that its own manufacturing plants are now powered by 100% clean energy. Not content to rest on their laurels however, Apple has expressed a commitment to work with its suppliers to generate more than four gigawatts of clean energy over the next two years – a figure which is equivalent to a third of the company’s current manufacturing electricity footprint.

“At Apple, we are proud to join with companies that are stepping up to address the climate challenge,” said Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, Lisa Jackson. “We’re thrilled so many of our suppliers are participating in the fund and hope this model can be replicated globally to help businesses of all sizes make a significant positive impact on our planet.”

However, developing clean energy is not the only environmentally friendly innovation Apple has in the pipeline.

Carbon-Free Smelting

Aluminium is an important material used in hundreds upon thousands of the products we use every day, especially when it comes to our technology. However, the 130-year-old production method brings with it a host of environmental concerns.

Now, Apple has partnered with metal production giants, Alcoa Corporation and Rio Tinto to develop and commercialise a patented new technology which will eliminate direct greenhouse gas emissions from the smelting process – an important part of aluminium production which traditionally carries with it a heavy carbon footprint.

Apple’s contribution has not only accelerated the development of this new technology, but has also committed to a joint investment, with the two metal production companies and the Canadian government, which will inject a further $144 million into future research and development in the field.

The new process replaces the carbon with an advanced conductive material which releases oxygen in place of carbon dioxide. The technology is already being used at the Alcoa Technical Centre, with plans for further rollout after testing is complete. Once fully developed and implemented, the method has the potential to eliminate greenhouse gasses from the global smelting industry.

“Apple is committed to advancing technologies that are good for the planet and help protect it for generations to come,” said Apple CEO, Tim Cook. “We are proud to be part of this ambitious new project and look forward to one day being able to use aluminium produced without direct greenhouse gas emissions in the manufacturing of our products.”

Final Thoughts

With these two innovations, Apple is demonstrating its commitment to making the manufacturing process more environmentally friendly, not only for itself, but for industries all over the world. Whether it’s investment in people, infrastructure, or new technology, the biggest brands in the world are the ones best placed to have a significant impact in the fight against climate change.

Climate change and the environmental impact of the manufacturing industry is set to be a hot topic at Connected Manufacturing 2019 taking place this coming January in Munich, Germany. Download the agenda today for more information and insights.