Apple and the Environment

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How does Apple review the company’s progress and status regarding its environmental impact?

A: Apple’s Executive Team is responsible for setting and implementing environmental policies. This group of the company’s most senior executives is advised by teams from across Apple, including environmental engineering, product development, operations, facilities and supplier responsibility. Apple’s climate change strategy is built into all facilities development plans and plays an important role in the product development process. In 2009, at the direction of the Executive Team, Apple became the first company in the electronics industry to report its entire carbon footprint, including the impact of its products on the environment through consumer use. In addition to providing consumers with an unprecedented level of detail and transparency on which to base their purchasing decisions, measuring the company’s carbon footprint helps the company identify areas where it can make the most significant reductions.

We understand that the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions (up to 98 per cent) come from the product life cycle, which is why decisions about the environmental attributes of our products are an integral aspect of all decisions related to the design and manufacture of those products. The same is true of all the environmental decisions for our facilities. Our integrated approach means that decisions about environmental issues are reviewed at the highest levels of the company. This structure has been an important factor in Apple’s success, particularly in the area of environmental responsibility. Executive Team members regularly review each new product during its development, focusing on material and design choices, the supply chain, packaging and product energy efficiency. Each of these areas has a direct impact on our environmental footprint. This strategy, which we’ve been using for well over two decades, has yielded the most environmentally forward-looking product designs in our industry. Every product we offer meets the ENERGY STAR guidelines for energy efficiency, is free of many harmful toxins and is made of highly recyclable materials. Our facilities and operations teams also regularly review our programmes and investments to reduce carbon emissions with Executive Team members. The results of these reviews include increased use of green power, new technology investments, commuter programmes and conservation. The efforts of this team have produced the highest product recycling rate in our industry.

Apple delivers important environmental attributes across all the company’s products and product families. Not only does Apple deliver where others have only promised to do so in the future, Apple has delivered where it’s most meaningful. The Apple Executive Team is committed to our environmental strategy: to reduce our carbon footprint, to remove toxins and to report on the environmental impact of every product we make so that our customers can measure our progress.

We are also committed to reporting our global corporate emissions annually and to reporting at the product level with each new product introduction.

Q: What is life cycle assessment (LCA)?

A: LCA is a process of evaluating the effects that a product has on the environment throughout its life cycle. The objective of completing a full life cycle analysis is to improve resource efficiency while reducing the environmental impact of all activities required to manufacture, distribute, use and dispose of a product. Cradle-to-grave life cycle assessments, for instance, include the extraction of raw materials from the earth, their transformation into finished materials, the manufacturing of materials into parts and products, transportation to end-users, the energy consumed during use and, ultimately, recycling. During each of these phases, activities occur that use materials and energy, generating waste and emissions. Life cycle assessment is the process used to accurately measure the emissions associated with each phase of these activities.

LCA results are often categorised in several ways, including global warming potential, acidification, eutrophication, tropospheric ozone creation and stratospheric ozone depletion. The procedures followed for life cycle assessment are defined as part of the internationally recognised ISO 14000 environmental management standards: in ISO 14040:2006 and 14044:2006.

Successful implementations of LCAs have been achieved in many industries, including car, airline and consumer goods companies. For complex products and processes composed of several thousand materials, the analysis requires dedicated software applications designed to accurately capture the environmental impact of very specific processes. Software tools provide an efficient and objective assessment of the environmental impacts a company measures by using third-party databases created and updated by independent industrial engineers who are experts in specific manufacturing processes. Apple has found that a combination of data collected directly from our internal and supplier processes as well as independent third-party data sets achieves the most accurate results.

Q: How does Apple use LCA?

A: Apple uses five steps when conducting a product LCA:

1. Data collection starts with measuring the power consumed by a product while it is running under a simulated use scenario. Different scenarios are used for different product lines. For example, we assume a four-year average use period for Mac computers. To be conservative, we also assume an office scenario use pattern for every computer shipped, and apply that use pattern to 365 days of use per year. For handheld products, such as iPod, iPad and iPhone, we assume a three-year use period. For these products, charging patterns are defined according to a “power user”, which we define as intense daily use over a three-year period. More information on our product power modes is provided in our Product Environmental Reports.

2. The second step is a part-by-part measurement of the entire product. This helps us accurately measure the size and weight of the components and materials in the product. Since a single product can contain several hundred parts, this step is supported by double-checking individual part details with the product’s bill of materials. We include material and component yield loss during production as part of this process. We also account for the transportation of materials between manufacturing sites. Production emissions for external accessories, such as keyboards and mice, and packaging are also included in this step.

3. The third step assesses emissions from transportation of finished products to sales regions. Data is collected on single units and multipack units of product shipments as they are transported over land, by sea and by air. The majority of the product transportation emissions are associated with getting the products from Asia to sales distribution hubs in Europe, Asia and the Americas. The final leg of transport between regional hubs and individual customers is accounted for using an overall adjustment factor.

4. The fourth step of the product life cycle measurement is the collection and recycling of the product when it reaches the end of its useful life. Transportation between customers and recycling plants along with the treatment steps carried out by the recycler to obtain metal, plastic and glass material streams are all accounted for in this calculation. Subsequent processing and smelting steps are not included as these are considered stages of production and not end-of-life processing.

5. After we collect all the data, the final step is to run the product data model in our LCA tool and compile detailed results for greenhouse gas emissions as they relate to the product. The data and life cycle model used in the tool are checked for quality and accuracy by the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany.

Q: Does Apple index its environmental performance data using Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Reporting Guidelines (G3)?

A: Yes. Environmental performance data covering energy and water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and waste production is provided in the 2013 Facilities Report (PDF).

Q: Does Apple use external verification and assurance for its carbon emissions reporting?

A: Yes. We engage in third-party verification for our carbon emissions reporting. The World Resource Institute (WRI)/World Business Council for Sustainable Developments (WBCSD) Greenhouse Gas Protocol was used in the calculations. Bureau Veritas (BV), a global leader in conformity assessment and certification services, provided reasonable assurance, one of the highest in the verification industry, for our Scope 1 and 2 emissions. It is the opinion of BV that the information in our greenhouse gas emissions report is accurate and reliable. Scope 3 carbon emissions related to our products, calculated using life cycle assessment, are checked for quality and accuracy by the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany, in accordance with the internationally recognised ISO 14000 environmental management standards: ISO 14040 and 14044.

Q: What is ISO 14001, and is Apple ISO 14001 certified?

A: ISO 14001 is a voluntary international standard that establishes the requirements for an organisation’s environmental management system (EMS). The ISO 14001 standard helps a company manage the environmental impact of its operations in a systematic way that is integrated with overall business management processes. Apple first achieved ISO 14001 certification for a manufacturing site in 1996.

Q: Does Apple ban environmentally sensitive substances?

A: Yes. Apple’s Regulated Substances Specification details a broad range of substances that are restricted or banned from use in Apple products, packaging and manufacturing.

Q: Do Apple products contain lead?

A: Apple is in compliance with the European Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive, which restricts the use of lead and other substances. As a result of our precautionary approach to substances, Apple phased out lead in plastic parts, paint and packaging material long before the RoHS Directive came into effect.

Q: What are Apple’s restrictions on brominated flame retardant–free (BFR-free) and polyvinyl chloride–free (PVC-free) products?

A: Apple defines a material as BFR-free and PVC-free if it contains less than 900 parts per million (ppm) of bromine and of chlorine. The 900-ppm limit is one of the strictest in the electronics industry and a concentration lower than the ban on lead in the European RoHS Directive. Since BFRs and PVC need to be present in much higher quantities to be effective, most materials that contain less than 900 ppm bromine and chlorine do not have any detectable levels of bromine or chlorine present.

Q: Which products are covered by Apple’s BFR-free and PVC-free transition?

A: Apple’s phase-out of BFRs and PVC covers all parts of new Apple product designs manufactured after 31 December 2008. The iPad, iPod and iPhone are examples of products that are BFR-free and PVC-free. While Apple’s phase-out will cover the vast majority of products and components, older product designs, replacement parts and accessories for older product designs may not be fully BFR-free and PVC-free.

Q: What is REACH, and how is Apple complying with the REACH regulation?

A: The Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals Regulation EC 1907/2007, commonly referred to as REACH, is a European regulation on chemicals and their safe use. With the publication of candidate lists for authorisation, the European Chemicals Agency identifies sets of substances of very high concern (SVHC) that manufacturers must disclose to customers if used in their products above 0.1 per cent.

Based on the current version of the candidate list for authorisation, Apple products do not contain SVHC above 0.1 per cent.

Q: Does Apple use ozone-depleting substances?

A: No ozone-depleting substances (ODCs) are used in any processes to manufacture components, materials or product packaging materials used by Apple, as stipulated by the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer.

Q: Does Apple have an Environmental Health and Safety Policy?

A: Apple is committed to protecting the environment, health and safety of our employees, customers and the global communities in which we operate. For more information, read our Environmental Health and Safety Policy statement (PDF).

Q: What happens to computers when they are recycled?

A: When you recycle with Apple, your used equipment is disassembled, and key components that can be reused are removed. Glass and metal can be reprocessed for use in new products. A majority of the plastics can be pelletised into a raw secondary material. Learn more about the Apple Recycling Programme

Q: Does Apple recycle packaging?

A: Apple offers free recycling of packaging from Apple products for education, business and government customers. Contact your Apple sales representative for more information.