Apple’s successful adoption of a host of sustainability initiatives demonstrate that it is never too late to go green. The conventional wisdom suggests that to be recognized as a sustainability leader you have to get there first and be green to the core. However, Apple has made some profound changes in recent years which have taken the company from the fringes where it was singled out as a sustainability laggard to its current incarnation as a sustainability leader.
A 2013 Green Market Oracle article asked whether Apple’s sustainability efforts where too little too late. It would appear that the answer to that question is apparently not.
In 2012 Apple did a reversal on their resistance to EPEAT and they radically improve working conditions of their suppliers in China.
Apple CEO Tim Cook’s hiring of former EPA chief Lisa Jackson in 2013 was a powerful signal that the company was serious about sustainability. Hiring Jackson to head their sustainability initiatives has made a powerful difference. She has said of Apple’s sustainability efforts we are “swinging for the fences.”
In 2015 Cook explained that engaging sustainability initiatives is about more than ROI. However, Apple’s bottom line appears to be benefiting alongside its reputation. In 2014 the Motley Fool published an article which suggested that Apple’s gross margins have become much more stable after being subject to wild volatility. Also in 2014, CSR Rep Track 100, ranked Apple as the 5th best CSR company in the world.
Apple has emerged as a sustainability leader and the numbers suggest that engaging sustainability has been good for the company. Apple has announced some massive renewable energy investments that is both environmentally sustainability and good business strategy. These investments position Apple as one of the world’s leading companies.
These efforts include $1.9 billion plan to build and operate two data centers in Europe (Ireland and Denmark) powered by wind energy. The Irish facility is being built on land that will restore native trees to the Derrydonnell Forest. The project will also incorporate and outdoor education space and a walking trail. The Denmark facility will capture waste heat and help to warm local homes. The company has also announced that they will be employing advanced green building designs.
Apple is also a solar energy leader. They are investing almost $3 billion into solar facilities in California and Arizona. The Arizona project alone will produce 70 megawatts of clean energy, enough to power more than 14,500 homes.
The company is also partnering with First Solar to build a 2,900 acre solar farm in Monterey California.
With Apple’s commitment to go 100 percent renewable, the company’s environmental footprint is getting much smaller. Apple’s improvements are improving the company’s ratings. Apples efforts were reflected in improved rankings in Greenpeace’s most recent electronic report and this is likely to improve when Greenpeace does its updates in April 2015.
It all comes down to leadership, and Cook is the real deal when it comes to environmental sustainability.
“We know that climate change is real,” Cook said at the Goldman Sachs technology conference in San Franciso. “Our view is that the time for talk has passed, and the time for action is now. We’ve shown that with what we’ve done.”
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