Over the past decade, Apple designers and engineers have continued to pioneer new ways to build our products with less material. Manufacturing innovations such as unibody construction have allowed products like iPad, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air to become thinner while being even more resilient. Today’s Mac Pro uses 74 per cent less aluminium and steel than the previous design. And the newest iMac is made with 68 per cent less material than the first iMac.
Smaller and lighter products are easier on the environment, but sometimes the environment isn’t easy on them. So we design everything from our largest displays to our smallest cables to be durable and long-lasting. And to make sure they are, we test them in our Reliability Lab at our headquarters in Cupertino.
You don’t have to buy a new Apple product to have one that feels new. We make it easy to update to new versions of apps, software and entire operating systems — OS X Mavericks works on Mac computers made as far back as 2007 — so you’ll have a new experience without buying a new device.
Our built-in notebook batteries last up to five years. Which saves on buying new batteries, produces less waste and increases the lifespan of your notebook.
And when Apple product owners pass on their devices to friends or family, they’re conserving resources too. Sometimes the mark of a great product isn’t how many you sell, but how much it’s used.
If not recycled properly, electronic waste can be a serious health and environmental issue. It’s often dumped in countries where dangerous recovery techniques leach toxins from electronics that can affect people and the environment. That’s why we’re committed to helping people recycle responsibly. Every Apple Retail Store in the world will take back Apple products for free, responsible recycling. We’ve also set up recycling programmes in cities and university campuses in 95 per cent of the countries where our products are sold, diverting more than 190 million kilos of equipment from landfills since 1994. In regions where we don’t have take-back programmes with physical drop-off/pickup locations, we arrange for pickup, transport and environmentally sound recycling of electronics. And it’s not just Apple products that we recycle at these events. In fact, over 90 per cent of the products we collect and recycle are not our own.
In 2010, we set out to achieve a worldwide recycling collection rate of 70 per cent of the total weight of the products we sold seven years earlier. Since then, we have consistently reached 85 per cent, while others in the industry reported numbers lower than 20 per cent. But our larger goal is to identify new recycling technologies that can help us recover additional materials and increase resource efficiency. That’s one reason we’ve partnered with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. It’s a like-minded group working to establish a more circular economy, in which material is transformed instead of wasted.
Learn more about our recycling programmes
Water is the world’s most precious resource. At our own facilities, as well as those of our suppliers, we continue to look for ways to reduce water consumption during manufacturing, cooling, landscaping and sanitation.
Our Maiden, North Carolina data centre employs an innovative cooling system that reuses water 35 times, resulting in a 20 per cent reduction in overall water consumption.
At our facilities that receive less dependable rainfall, we’ve installed sophisticated irrigation systems that monitor local weather conditions and soil moisture, which led to a 40 per cent reduction in landscape watering. At some facilities we’ve achieved further reductions thanks to drought-tolerant landscaping and drip-irrigation.
In 2013, we made a number of water improvements at our Cupertino headquarters. We converted over six acres of landscaping to climate-adapted, drought-tolerant plants and retrofitted the irrigation system to optimise water savings. We replaced nearly 3,000 square metres of turf with drought-tolerant plants, which is expected to save over 11 million litres of water each year. And we recycled 3,222 cubic metres of landscape mulch to use onsite, which increases soil moisture and reduces overall water demand.
To make sure our suppliers are part of our water conservation efforts, we’ve established the Clean Water Programme. This initiative helps reduce water use, promote water recycling and reuse, and prevent illegal water pollution within our supply chain.