Apple is a leading innovator and a world leader in the field of technology. Its market cap has hit $1 Trillion again in May and September 2019. However, there is more good news from Apple including the progress it has made in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and sustainability. Whether it is manufacturing or supply chain, Apple has made significant progress in terms of sustainability during the past several years. In the words of Lisa jackson, Vice President, Environment policy and social initiatives, Apple, “At Apple, we are committed to building groundbreaking products and services with the mission to leave our world better than we found it.”
Whether it is about reducing environmental footprint or making safer products, Apple achieved significant milestones in 2018 in several areas. Making great products can sometimes prove taxing for the planet. The pressure on natural resources can grow high and especially when making these products is as complex. However, Apple has held itself and its suppliers as well as manufacturers to the highest standards. The reason behind it is product quality and customer experience. Following higher standards has helped the company bring great results. Over the last several years, the company has also achieved some important milestones in CSR and sustainability.
Use of renewable energy :-
Apple has also included its suppliers in this program and 44 of them have pledged to use 100% renewable energy for their production just like Apple. Including the suppliers helps large companies like Apple grow the impact of their CSR and sustainability strategy. Suppliers are an important part of any company’s production system. A large part of the emissions generated in the Apple system is produced by the suppliers. if Apple suppliers can manage their environmental impact more efficiently, it will result in lower pressure on environmental resources and community. Apple’s large supplier network is spread globally. Moreover, any company that wants to successfully implement its CSR and sustainability strategy should make its suppliers partners in its CSR and sustainability programs.
Water stewardship :-
Apple has also taken significant steps in the area of water stewardship including controlling freshwater use, improving the quality of water it discharges from Apple system, and demonstrating leadership by protecting shared water resources. The focus of Apple is on improving water use in its facilities and —through its Clean Water Program — on helping its suppliers conserve water and prevent water pollution. Apple has also engaged communities locally where it operates and manufactures its products to ensure protection of and accessibility to shared water resources. Apple is designing its new data centers to use less water for cooling. This will help the company conserve more water and protect existing resources to ensure continuous supply of water. The company has also grown its use of recycled water. Throughout its facilities, the use of recycled water grew from 24 million gallons to 63 million gallons in 2018.
Simultaneously, the brand is pursuing alternative resources of water. Rain water conservation is also a great method to manage water scarcity. In several parts of the world, organizations including government, private and not for profit organizations have tackled water scarcity successfully to a large extent by conserving rain water. Investing in rain water conservation will help Apple manage water scarcity, ensure continuous supply for its projects as well as local communities where it is operational and also ensure lower pressure on the existing water bodies. These steps have been found to be effective in several parts of the world where water scarcity is a major problem. So, the two methods that Apple has utilized to control wastage of water in its system and manage its efficient use include water recycling and conservation. These steps will benefit the company and the community. In the longer term, these steps will have helped the company save millions of gallons of drinkable water and manage its water use with efficiency.
The company has made significant progress in its use of recycled material as well. Apart from reducing the use of plastic in packaging by around 48% and growing its use of recycled plastic, it is using recycled tin, aluminium and cobalt for Apple products and their parts. To expand its innovation around recycling and disassembly, Apple has partnered with experts and academia. In 111 products, the company is using 100% recycled tin in the solder on main logic boards. It launched its 2018 MacBook Air and Mac Mini with 100% recycled aluminium enclosures which has helped Apple cut the carbon footprint of both products by around a half. Moreover, the company introduced 82 components with an average of 38% recycled plastic across products released in 2018. Further, it has refurbished more than 7.8 million devices and recycled more than 48,000 metric tons of e-waste in 2018. In this way, Apple achieved some significant milestones in the area of using recycled material and reducing its carbon footprint. Over time, while Apple has grown a lot cautious regarding the chemicals and material it uses for production of Apple products, the company has also made its product portfolio highly attractive for the customers who like buying environment friendly products.
Making safer products:-
Apple has also adopted strong measures to make its products safer for those who make or use them. It has updated the Apple Regulated Substances Specification (RSS) to strengthen supplier requirements and restrictions on harmful substances. All of Apple’s supplier final assembly sites have adopted safe cleaners and degreasers. The company is continually evaluating the tens of thousands of products used in its products. It is an enormous task, but Apple is committed to consumer safety. Apple will continue to eliminate harmful substances from its products. In this regard it is doing more than just what law requires. It seeks to reduce and remove toxins from its products making them several times safer to use. Apple had started identifying and eliminating harmful substances from its products right from late 1990s. Moreover, the company has focused upon replacing harmful substances in manufacturing process chemicals to keep workers in its supply chain safe.
Helping suppliers reduce their carbon footprint :-
Apple is also handling the carbon emissions down its supply chain responsibly. Manufacturing makes up 74 percent of the carbon footprint of Apple. The electricity used to make the parts of Apple products is the largest source of these emissions. So Apple is helping its suppliers reduce their energy use and transition to sources of renewable energy. Since having announced its Apple’s Supplier Clean Energy Program in 2015, the company has sen enormous progress in just three years. In 2018, Apple with its suppliers invested in, or procured from, 1.9 gigawatts of operational clean energy which collectively generated 4.1 billion kWh. In this way, the company avoided about 3.5 million metric tons of CO₂e— which is roughly equal to the electricity needed for powering over 600,000 homes in the United States for around a year.
Investing in Girls’ education and empowerment :-
In 2018, Apple announced to become the first Laureate partner of Malala fund, which will enable a significant expansion of the efforts of Malala Yousufzai’s Malala funds to support girls’ education and advocate for equal opportunity. Apple will provide technology and other forms of assistance to the Malala fund. The aim of this fund is to achieve at least 12 years of education for every girl around the world. The organization has been working since 2013 in partnership with other organizations from private and public sector to help further its cause. Around the world, education and empowerment of girls has been identified as a major challenge. In several parts and mainly countries with higher Muslim population, education and security of girls is a major challenge. However, in several of them, girls do not have sufficient opportunities of education or employment. Malala Yousufzai’s organization is working for the elimination of this problem from every corner of the world. Apple is a valuable partner in this regard and its contribution in both financial and non-financial forms matters.
Investing in marginalized communities through educational & other initiatives :-
Apart from the other methods of giving back to environment and community, Apple is also investing in poor and marginalized communities through projects to empower the poor and the backward. Apple has remained a part of the ConnectED initiative right since 2014. It has pledged $100 million of teaching and learning solutions to 114 underserved schools across United states. Apple has donated an iPad to every student, a Mac and iPad to every teacher, and an Apple TV to every classroom. Apart from that, it has implemented a process to provide planning, professional learning, and ongoing guidance in order to have every school experience the transformational power of technology. In India and other markets too, it has invested in several socially beneficial projects including electrification of rural areas as well as preventive healthcare and high quality education for low income communities.
Apple has taken significant steps as a part of its CSR and sustainability initiatives during the past five years. It has also achieved significant milestones in these two areas. From the 100% use of renewable energy in its facilities to water stewardship as well as reducing the use of harmful substances in the making of its products, in all these areas, the company has gained significantly. It has also made its suppliers partners in its carbon footprint reduction program and apart from educating them, it is helping them find the right resources. The company is also helping communities in US and abroad by investing in charitable projects and the empowerment of the poor and the marginalized. Since, Tim Cook became the CEO of Apple, he has taken several meaningful steps in the direction of community empowerment and social responsibility. Some of his biggest and most notable achievements include higher focus on inclusion and diversity inside the organization as well as growing focus of the entire organization on product quality and safety. These investments have helped Apple create a stronger reputation throughout the markets where it operates. Under Tim Cook, Apple has also emerged as a strong advocate of human rights and people’s privacy. From education to environmental resources, health care and girls’ rights around the globe, Apple is investing in CSR and sustainably directly as well as through partners.