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Today Apple announced a series of initiatives to embrace renewable energy and “green” practices in China.
The announcement mentions a few programs, including a partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, a plan to “significantly increase responsibly managed forests across China,” and a promise to expand “renewable energy projects to manufacturing facilities in China.”
In a statement, Apple’s Tim Cook pointed out the company’s success so far in “greening” its data centers, stores, and offices. Cook says Apple aims to do the same thing to its factories: “we’re ready to start leading the way toward reducing carbon emissions from manufacturing.”
Apple’s press release makes no mention of the company’s controversial working conditions in Chinese factories. The release also makes few concrete guarantees; Cook cautions that the initiatives above “will take years,” but celebrates them nonetheless.
Here’s Apple’s full statement on the matter:
Apple Announces New Environmental Initiatives in China
BEIJING—May 11, 2015—Apple® today announced an expansion of its renewable energy and environmental protection initiatives in China, including a new multi-year project with World Wildlife Fund to significantly increase responsibly managed forests across China. The new forestland program aims to protect as much as 1 million acres of responsibly managed working forests which provide fiber for pulp, paper and wood products.
Apple’s goal is to achieve a net-zero impact on the world’s supply of sustainable virgin fiber and power all its operations worldwide on 100 percent renewable energy.
“Forests, like energy, can be renewable resources,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environmental Initiatives. “We believe we can run on naturally renewable resources and ensure that we protect—and create—as much sustainable working forest as needed to produce the virgin paper in our product packaging. This is an important step toward that goal and our commitment to leave the world better than we found it.”
Apple also announced its intent to expand its industry-leading renewable energy projects to manufacturing facilities in China.
“We’ve set an example by greening our data centers, retail stores and corporate offices, and we’re ready to start leading the way toward reducing carbon emissions from manufacturing,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “This won’t happen overnight—in fact it will take years—but it’s important work that has to happen, and Apple is in a unique position to take the initiative toward this ambitious goal. It is a responsibility we accept. We are excited to work with leaders in our supply chain who want to be on the cutting edge of China’s green transformation.”
Today’s announcements come three weeks after Apple launched its first major solar project in China. Solar installations in Sichuan Province will generate far more energy than needed to power all of Apple’s corporate offices and retail stores in China.
Apple is partnering with Leshan Electric Power Co., Sichuan Development Holding Co., Ltd, Tianjin Tsinlien Investment Holding Co., Ltd, Tianjin Zhonghuan Semiconductor Co., Ltd, and SunPower Corporation on the project encompassing two 20-megawatt solar farms. Together the project will generate up to 80 million kilowatt hours per year of clean energy, enough to power the equivalent of 61,000 Chinese homes. That’s clean energy added to the grid that would otherwise not be there.
The solar projects were carefully designed to minimize their ecological impact and protect the grasslands that support the yak population, which is also important to the local economy. Today 87 percent of Apple’s global operations run on renewable energy, and the Sichuan Province solar project will bring Apple even closer to its commitment to reach 100 percent.
“Apple’s support for this project and its environmental leadership show that protecting forests is not just good for society but important for business,” said Lo Sze Ping, Chief Executive Officer for WWF China. “This collaboration between our two organizations will seek to reduce China’s ecological footprint by helping produce more wood from responsibly managed forests within its own borders. Doing so is essential to China, the world’s biggest timber importer. Our hope is this will catalyze a new model of corporate leadership in promoting sustainable forest management and using paper resources more efficiently and responsibly around the world.”
Apple operates 19 corporate offices and 22 retail stores in China, including Hong Kong, directly employing 8,000 people. In total, Apple has helped create and support over 3 million jobs in China, including at least 1.5 million iOS app developer jobs and other positions related to the iOS ecosystem.
Developers in China have earned more than $3.4 billion through the worldwide sale of apps on the App Store, with over half of that amount paid in the last 12 months alone. App Store income earned by China’s developers is growing at a faster rate than any other major market in the world.
Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.
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