Apple 2008 Environmental Update
For the past several years, Apple has made a concerted effort to be more transparent about the steps we are taking to protect the environment and make our business more sustainable. In this environmental update, I’d like to inform you of our recent progress and introduce you to a groundbreaking system of reporting that we believe is unmatched in our industry.
Removing Toxic Chemicals
Last year we announced the unprecedented goal of eliminating polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) from Apple products by the end of 2008. We also pledged to remove mercury from our displays and arsenic from our display glass as we transition to more efficient light-emitting diode (LED) technology.
The greatest of these challenges has been eliminating PVC and BFRs, which many other companies have only promised to phase out of certain parts like enclosures or printed circuit board laminates. In contrast, we are removing all forms of bromine and chlorine throughout the entire product, not just PVC and BFRs. Apple has qualified and tested thousands of components and mechanical plastics as bromine and chlorine free, and we are in the final stages of developing and certifying PVC-free power cables.
In June 2007, Apple shipped a new 15-inch MacBook Pro which featured the industry’s first mercury-free 15.4-inch LED display. In January 2008 we marked another milestone with the introduction of the MacBook Air, the world’s thinnest notebook and the first to ship with both arsenic-free display glass and mercury-free backlight technology. More recently we introduced our first BFR- and PVC-free iPods and iPhone 3G with mercury-free displays. The new MacBook family features only LED displays and continues our progress, representing the greenest notebooks we’ve delivered to date.
I’m proud to report that all of Apple’s new product designs are on track to meet our 2008 year-end goal.
Apple’s product take-back programs have grown dramatically since our last update, when we set some of the most aggressive recycling goals in the industry. In 2007, our recycling volume grew 57% as Apple collected nearly 21 million pounds of e-waste.
You’ll remember that we measure our recycling performance according to a standard first proposed by Dell: compare the amount you collect to the total weight of the products you sold seven years earlier. In 2007, we achieved a recycling rate of 18.4%, which blew away our target of 13%. Our goal for 2010 was 28%, and we’ll beat that in 2008 — two years ahead of schedule.
Apple now provides take-back options for our customers in 95% of the countries where our products are sold. You can read more about our recycling progress here.
Last year, I promised an update on the carbon footprint of our products as we set out to assess Apple’s true environmental impact. Most companies are focused on the emissions produced by their offices or perhaps their factories, but we have found that this accounts for just a small fraction — less than 5% — of the greenhouse gases associated with consumer electronics.
We decided to measure the emissions produced at each stage of a product’s life cycle, from production and transportation to consumer use and eventual recycling. Starting today, Apple will report this information for each new product we introduce, so our customers will better understand the progress we’re making.
Our new Product Environmental Reports, available via the link on this page, provide a detailed description of each product’s energy efficiency, material composition, packaging, and — most significantly — greenhouse gas emissions. No other company in our industry provides this much detail at a product level.
Of course, we are constantly working to reduce the emissions associated with Apple’s products. This means making them more efficient in size and energy consumption. For example, the 20-inch iMac consumes about the same amount of electricity as a single household lightbulb — just 67 watts — when on. That’s more efficient than our competitors have pledged to make their PCs two years from now.
We’re approaching this issue at a product level because we think it’s the best way to help our customers make informed decisions about their own carbon footprint and how to reduce it. I encourage you to check out these new reports.