Former EPA head speaks of corporate strategy
Apple's new VP of environmental initiatives, Lisa Jackson, has reportedly outlined her strategy to help the company improve energy efficiency. Speaking during a keynote session at the Verge conference in San Francisco, the former Environmental Protection Agency head also commented on the challenges of collecting data on sustainability projects to properly gauge effects on the company's carbon footprint.
Positions suggest more work on pollution, worker rights
Apple now has over 200 job listings active in China via LinkedIn, notes the Wall Street Journal. The influx started roughly three weeks ago, with a number of jobs having been added within just the last three days. At least some of these appear to be addressed at dealing with pollution and workers' rights abuses in Apple's supply chain; the company is for instance hiring supplier responsibility product managers, and an environmental affairs program manager.
Suppliers dumping contaminated water, groups charge
Foxconn and UniMicron -- two key suppliers to Apple and other high-tech companies -- are being investigated by Chinese authorities over complaints of local rivers being polluted with heavy metals. The issue was brought to the attention of the Chinese government late last week, after allegations were made public by environmental activist Ma Jun and a group of five non-profit organizations. In particular the allegations deal with the town of Kunshan, roughly 40 miles west of Shanghai, where residents say pollution has been worsening over the past decade.
Lisa Jackson to continue, build on Apple's eco-record
Among many other topics mentioned during CEO Tim Cook's talk at D11 today, one bit of genuine previously-unannounced news came out: Apple has hired the former head of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, to head up its environmental responsibility efforts. Jackson will report directly to Cook and will be overseeing the eco-friendly efforts of Apple's data centers and other initiatives "across the company."
Company still working toward goal of complete renewable energy use
Apple's datacenters are now fully supplied by renewable energy, the company has announced on its website. The company is relying mostly on a mix of solar, wind, and geothermal energy. At a facility in Maiden, North Carolina, it is also relying on fuel cells that convert biogas; the main source of energy though is a 100-acre solar farm, which became fully operational in December. The company says it has met a goal of producing 60 percent of the center's energy on-site.
Waste discharge killled fish, hurt farming
A supplier of iPad casings is facing sanctions by the Shanghai government for polluting a local river, the Financial Times reports. Waste discharges by Casetek subsidiary Riteng are said to have regularly turned the river milky white since the Songjiang #3 factory opened two years ago. The fish population in the river has died, while area farmers say they can no longer use the water to grow their crops.
Claims company not talking about emissions, clean energy
Environmental activism group Greenpeace has downgraded Apple in its 18th annual Guide to Green Electronics. The slip to sixth place is blamed on a "lack of transparency" with several issues, namely "GHG [greenhouse gas] emission reporting, clean energy advocacy, further information on its [Apple's] management of toxic chemicals, and details on post-consumer recycled plastic use."
Almost 220 acres for new solar farm
Apple is planning to expand its North Carolina datacenter yet again, and has paid for $3 million in additional land near Conover, according to the Hickory Daily Record. The purchase includes a base 218.885 acres plus another 0.251, all expected to support a new solar farm. The information stems from records at the Catawba County Register of Deeds.
EPEAT, tracking among issues in Apple's agenda
Apple spent about $470,000 lobbying US Congresspeople during the second quarter of 2012, versus Google's $3,920,000, Fortune notes. New Congressional lobbying reports have been released, indicating that both companies spent slightly less during the quarter in their efforts to influence politicians. During the first quarter, Google spent $5,030,000, versus Apple's $500,000.
Mansfield admits withdrawal 'was a mistake'
Apple has reversed course on an earlier decision and put all qualifying products back on a list of products certified to the EPEAT environmental standard. The decision was announced today through an open letter by Bob Mansfield, Apple's soon-to-be-retired senior VP of hardware engineering. "We’ve recently heard from many loyal Apple customers who were disappointed to learn that we had removed our products from the EPEAT rating system. I recognize that this was a mistake. Starting today, all eligible Apple products are back on EPEAT," the message begins.
Activist group still wants Apple to drop coal power
Environmentalist group Greenpeace says that Apple's clean energy policies have improved, but the company still has a long way to go. In a new report, Greenpeace analyzes Apple's efforts to reduce its dependency on coal-power, finding that the iPad maker has yet to lay out a realistic plan to power its iCloud offerings with cleaner energy alternatives. Greenpeace's "Clean Energy Road Map" gave Apple a score of 22.6 percent, up from 15.3 percent in April.
Tech still not in any shipping product
Apple has won rights to a sixth US patent related to solar power, according to Patently Apple. The concept involves a portable device with several power interfaces, of which one could be an "auxiliary" source, specifically solar cells. How those cells might be integrated into a device is left out of the equation.
Could be harbinger of wider problems for Apple
San Francisco will soon stop buying Macs for the city's 50 agencies, according to Department of Environment officials speaking with the Wall Street Journal. The officials say that within the next two weeks it will send out letters to agencies explaining that Macs "no longer qualify" for city money, following Apple's request to have 39 desktops, monitors, and notebooks pulled from a list of EPEAT-certified products. Workers will still be able to buy Macs, but only through a process described as "long" and "onerous."
Gov. Brown cites Apple energy promises
The office of California Governor Jerry Brown has approved Apple's upcoming "spaceship" campus for a streamlined environmental review, says the San Jose Mercury News. While the change isn't expected to speed up the structure's construction, which will only start next year, it should allow Apple to bypass some potential headaches during the review process. With the project classified under the "leadership project" designation, any legal challenges should be fast-tracked through the court system.
Facility to have two solar arrays, fuel cell farm
Apple's large-scale datacenter in Maiden, North Carolina will run entirely on renewable energy by the end of the year, the company has announced. Currently Apple is in the middle of buying equipment from Bloom Energy and SunPower Corp. to build not one but two solar arrays in the Maiden area; previously, only one was known to be in development. Once the equipment is in place, it should generate 84 million kWh of energy per year. Apple's fuel cell farm should be finished later in 2012.
Campaign over 'cloud' pollution escalates
Environmental activist group Greenpeace has staged a protest at Apple's Cupertino headquarters, notes AppleInsider. Images were projected onto the main building overnight, including supportive messages from users on Twitter and Facebook. Activists also secured themselves inside a so-called "survival device," measuring 8 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Four activists dressed themselves as iPhones, complete with screens again displaying messages from Twitter and Facebook.
Protesters point finger at coal-powered cloud
Apple's ongoing issues with environmental groups were thrust to the forefront today in Catawba County, NC, WCNC News reports. Protesters in Catawba blocked the train tracks leading to the Marshall Steam Station, which powers a data center Apple uses for its iCloud service.
Activists target Apple over
Four Greenpeace activists today organized a protest at Apple's office in Cork, Ireland, reports say. The people handed out leaflets, and posted signs on the side of the building, including ones that spelled out "Clean our cloud." Police and fire crews were called, and after an hour the activists voluntarily came down from the office's roof. Greenpeace is allegedly organizing related protests across Europe.
Cites bad data, says NC facility will use 20MW
Apple has responded to criticism from environmental pressure group Greenpeace, which yesterday issued a report criticizing some of the biggest technology companies for lack of transparency on using sustainable resources for their cloud data centers. The Mac maker said Greenpeace's claims regarding Apple's North Carolina data center are based on bad data, claiming that it uses five times the amount of power that it actually does.
Google, Facebook named among better firms
Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft are among companies Greenpeace is criticizing in a new report on sourcing clean power for datacenters. The activist organization has rated a little over a dozen Internet-based companies on factors like their consideration of clean power when picking a location, their advocacy for the idea, and how transparent their clean power strategy is. Apple and Amazon have each been given Fs for their location choices; some examples are Apple's datacenter in North Carolina, and Amazon's presence in Northern Virginia, both of which are said to be dependent on a mix of coal and nuclear power.
Apple has 'changed a lot,' activist says
Apple is planning to do a pollution audit of one of its parts suppliers, a Chinese environmental group tells the Wall Street Journal. A vice director for the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, Wang Ding, elaborates that the supplier makes printed circuit boards, but Wang is refusing to name the company. She does say that the IPE will be participating in the audit, and have help from professional auditors. The group is hoping to audit other Apple suppliers as well, but Wang adds that this is dependent "on Apple's and its suppliers' actions."
Solar farm will help power North Carolina facility
A San Jose company, SunPower, has won the contract to build solar panels for the company's North Carolina datacenter, a filing with the state's Utilities Commission reveals. "Each of the photovoltaic installations will consist of multiple SunPower E20 435-watt photovoltaic modules on ground-mounted single axis tracking systems," the document reads. The solar farm is being built in phases, and could be ready to supply power in October.
Few alternatives said to exist
Bloom Energy is responsible for supplying the hardware behind Apple's upcoming 5MW fuel cell farm, two GigaOM sources claim. The company may already have some Bloom cells at its Cupertino headquarters. The 5MW farm will support Apple's datacenter in Maiden, North Carolina, helping the building to use cleaner, off-the-grid power in association with a solar array.
Only two suppliers to be checked so far
Apple is telling activists in the US and China that it will soon permit independent environmental reviews of at least two Chinese suppliers, according to USA Today. Prominent Chinese activist Ma Jun, the founder of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, tells the paper that Apple agreed to the reviews in late January. The move is said to have been made in response to two reports by the IPE and other environmental groups, showing toxic chemical use and hazardous waste leaks at companies thought to be Apple suppliers. Apple rarely acknowledges which companies are a part of its supply chain.
Array among largest in US, Apple claims
Apple is promoting a forthcoming solar array at its Maiden, North Carolina datacenter as a part of its newly-released 2012 environmental report. The company claims that when it is finished, the facility will be the largest end-user-owned solar array in the US, generating 42 million kWh of power. It also says it has won LEED Platinum certification from the US Green Building Council.
Claims less underage labor, over 100 new audits
Apple has released its 2012 Supplier Responsibility Progress Report (PDF), providing a brief glimpse into how it treated its supply chain during 2011. The company claims to maintain high standards for suppliers, and in 2011 it is said to have conducted 229 audits, up 80 percent over 2010. In the process it discovered six active and 13 historical instances of underage workers, spread across five factories. Apple blames weak controls on checking age or documentation at the facilities.
Apple business motivating factor
Cable maker Volex is switching to halogen-free power cables this year because of its primary customer, Apple, reports say. Burning halogen can result in the release of dioxins and furans, although the chemicals are only said to be a serious concern during the disposal process. Volex supplies both USB and power cables to Apple for products such as iPhones and iPads.
NGOs split on outcome of event
On Tuesday, Apple met five Chinese environmental groups at its Beijing offices in order to talk supplier pollution problems, reports observe. The event is said to have lasted three and a half hours, and been attended by five Apple representatives as well as nine representatives from the environmental NGOs. The latter, however, are split on whether the outcome of the event was beneficial.
HP, Dell, Nokia take top spots
Apple has risen a substantial five spots in the latest edition of Greenpeace's regular "Guide to Greener Electronics" rankings. The company has a score of 4.6 out of 10, nevertheless putting it in fourth place. Leading the charts are HP at 5.9, followed by Dell at 5.1, and Nokia at 4.9. Trailing behind Apple are Philips (4.5), Sony Ericsson (4.2), Samsung (4.1) and Lenovo (3.8).
Should return Air, Pro shipments to normal
A major Apple supplier, Catcher Technology, has confirmed it will fully reopen a closed Chinese plant next week, according to Reuters. The facility has been in limbo since mid-October, when it was forced to temporarily shut down because of complaints of strange odors received by local government. Catcher has previously said it would resume operations by November, and spend about $2-3 million to reduce pollution.
Greener tech fo Apple portables?
Two newly-published Apple patent applications suggest an unexpected Apple interest in hydrogen fuel cells, AppleInsider notes. The first, Parallel fuel stack architecture, suggests a way of arranging cells into a stack. A common problem with stacks is said to be a tendency toward a single point of failure in a connected series. There can also be many kinds of vulnerabilities, such as degradation of the electrolyte, accumulation of nitrogen in the anode, and water flooding in the anode or cathode. The reliability of stacks can go down as the number of cells grows, Apple comments.
Shipments will 'inevitably be affected'
Metal casing supplier Catcher Technology has partially shutdown a plant in eastern China, following environmental complaints made to the local government by area residents, says the Wall Street Journal. Catcher elaborates that the complaints revolved around a "strange odor" coming from the complex. The facility primarily supplies casing for the MacBook Air, as well as some smartphones.
Covered under Reuse and Recycle program
Apple has begun offering as much as $200 or more for used iPhone 4s as a part of its Reuse and Recycling program. The $200 figure applies to a 16GB iPhone 4 in good condition. For that amount a device must be fully functional, including the battery, and lack any scratches, scuffs, cracks or water damage. A person must also do a factory reset of iOS and supply the power adapter.
Apple bends to pressure on eve of report's release
A new report issued by five Chinese NGOs accuses Apple of using known polluters as suppliers, and taking "advantage of the loopholes in developing countries’ environmental management systems." The Financial Times writes that the document has escalated a long-running standoff between Apple and one of the report's authors, Ma Jun, who heads the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs. Only hours before the report was released, the company finally agreed to meet with Ma to talk about his accusations. The director says that Apple claimed some of the factories on his list aren't Apple suppliers, but without going into detail.
All computers and monitors recycled for free
Apple has made two important changes to its Reuse and Recycling program. To begin with, the company is now taking in iPhones and iPads for reuse, in exchange for gift cards worth the devices' "fair market value." The cards can be used at Apple's retail or online stores. Previously, only desktop or notebook computers qualified.
Poisoned workers not being monitored as promised
Apple has been operating irresponsibly in China, both in terms of labor and the environment, Foreign Policy suggests. A new report focuses on poisoning at a Wintek factory, where the Apple supplier began cleaning iPhone screens with an agent containing n-hexane. Exposure to the chemical triggered nerve damage in 137 workers, such as Jia Jingchuan, profiled by FP. Jia ended up hospitalized for 10 months starting in August 2009.
Possible integration a long-term prospect
Both Apple and Samsung have been evaluating the possibility of solar-powered products, claims Digitimes. The companies are also, in particular, said to be considering including Taiwanese solar firms in their supply chains. Some of the firms in question say though that markets may take time to develop. As an an example, industry sources add that a Samsung solar-powered netbook has an abnormally-sized solar cell, which is used in smaller numbers than with rooftop solar systems.
NC center could 'triple' Apple power consumption
As part of a report (PDF) rating several high-tech companies, Greenpeace has made public a critical stance of Apple's cloud-based environmental impact. The "clean energy index" rating for Apple's data services is just 6.7 percent, versus the likes of 21 percent for Twitter, 36.4 percent for Google and 55.9 percent for Yahoo. Apple was also given a "coal intensity" rating of 54.5 percent, in theory making it the most intense polluter among the group because of relatively high power consumption versus its coal power dependence.
Company dodging questions about polluters
A non-profit Chinese environmental group, the Institute of Environmental and Public Affairs, is ranking Apple last in a list of 29 multinational technology companies in terms of responsiveness and transparency, according to Bloomberg. The director of the Institute, Ma Jun, says that Apple has refused to confirm whether or not some suspected polluters are amongst its suppliers. The company is also dodging responsibility for environmental problems it is causing, Ma claims.
Few other deivces to be excluded
Apple is not allowing the iPhone to be rated in a new environmental ranking scheme run by UK carrier O2, says The Guardian. Put together in partnership with a sustainability advisory group, Forum for the Future, the scheme rates phones based on the environmental impact of factors like manufacturing, packaging, energy efficiency and recyclability. Each device gets a score of zero to five based on 63 questions provided to manufacturers.
Sleeves made from hemp, use fleece liners
ColcaSac has expanded its series of protective cases beyond just MacBook offerings, with several new sleeves designed for the iPad, iPhone and iPods. The company delivers handmade sleeves and cases using environmentally friendly fabrics such as jute and hemp, considered to be stronger than cotton. The sleeves use polyester Sherpa fleece for the interior lining, protecting the device from scratches while adding cushioning.
Designs would 'harness' sunlight
Apple has been experimenting with the idea of using the sun or other light sources to illuminate notebook displays, a patent application reveals. Submitted in September 2008 but published just this week, a filing explains various means by which external light could be used to amplify an LCD's output, including more mundane options such as a light bulb accessory. The solar option would involve a rear-mounted "light harness," reflecting light into the back of a screen.
Company plans for 25 Chinese retail stores
Environmental issues played a significant role in today's Apple shareholders meeting, inside accounts say. Although the meeting was notable for the return of CEO Steve Jobs, now said to look "good" despite last year's medical problems, events were quickly upstaged by the Shelton Ehrlich, a Palo Alto man who insisted that Al Gore was ignorant about melting glaciers and other aspects of climate science. Gore, who serves on the Apple board of directors, is also known for his climate change advocacy.
Proposals spearheaded by activist group As You Sow
Apple's board is urging its shareholders to reject several proposals focused on environmental efforts. The company's annual proxy statement includes the board's recommendations for votes on seven proposals. Proposal No. 6, which will be submitted by John Powers from the activist group As You Sow, seeks to establish a sustainability report detailing information such as greenhouse gas emissions and toxic materials, while addressing employee and product safety.
Samsung, Dell, Lenovo follow close behind
Greenpeace has announced its latest Guide to Greener Electronics, amid the plethora of product announcements this week at CES. The activist organization praises Apple for actively addressing environmental issues, with the removal of hazardous substances topping the list of priorities. Nokia leads the pack when comparing scores, with Sony Ericsson following close behind.
Groups take sides in row over environmental laws
Both Greenpeace and the US Secretary of Energy are welcoming an Apple decision to abandon the US Chamber of Commerce. The former's toxics campaigner, Casey Harrell, on Thursday issued a statement which applauded Apple for confronting the Chamber over its opposition to mandatory limits on greenhouse gases. Apple is the first technology company to have removed itself from the Chamber over the issue, though it was preceded by shoe maker Nike, and several energy companies including Exelon, PNM Resources and Pacific Gas & Electric.
Company active on toxins, groups say
Two environmental advocacy groups have praised Apple in a joint report, newly distributed to the media. ChemSec and Clean Production Action claim that Apple is one of the more respectable companies in eliminating bromine and chlorine from its products, through an "innovative program that restricts the use of nearly all bromine and chlorine compounds across all their product lines," the groups say. A number of smaller Apple products -- including iPods and iPhones -- are now free from any PVC or BFRs (brominated flame retardants), and its computers are said to be mostly free of PVC, and entirely free of BFRs.
Chamber shunned for opposing greenhouse gas limits
Apple has sent a letter of resignation (PDF) to the US Chamber of Commerce over a disagreement involving proposed environmental legislation, the New York Times reports. Chamber president and chief executive Thomas J. Donohue recently voiced opposition to expanded EPA policies aimed at greenhouse gas emissions.
Dell, LG, Lenovo suffer criticisms
Activist group Greenpeace has released a new edition of its Guide to Greener Electronics, which ranks major high-tech corporations in terms of their alleged environmental friendliness. Among the companies favored by Greenpeace's press efforts is Apple, which the group notes recently disclosed its carbon emissions. Apple has risen in rankings from 11th to 9th, aided not by the disclosure but by being the "most progressive" computer maker in terms of removing product toxins.
Group suggests Greenpeace isn't the only watchdog
A California-based nonprofit, As You Sow, claims it has been a significant influence in Apple's latest campaign to develop environmentally-conscious practices. Although Greenpeace typically gets the first mention amongst organizations pushing companies to improve their methods, As You Sow suggests it directly engaged the Mac maker to disclose carbon footprint data.