"I love my Mac. I just wish it came in green"

Last April Apple released a beautiful promo-video titled "better". Though many cynics will still discount the computer giant's efforts as window(s) dressing, Apple has actually gotten a lot 'better' in its environmental and sustainability policies since it was heavily criticized for its manufacturing processes halfway into the 2000s.  

Last week Apple announced its earnings and, once again, these were huge. 

Apple’s earnings, as expected, were a bit boring today. The company isn’t debuting any major new products until later in 2014, so investors had to make do with news that the company hauled in a slightly larger boatload of cash than it did this time last year, mostly thanks to growing iPhone sales. Total revenue rose 6 percent to a gaudy $37.43 billion.
— Slate

$37.43 billion... that's a number you don't hear every day. Apple is definitely no longer a rebel company, but is in the absolute top of the consumer electronics & web services business. Being in such a leading position means having a lot of power and, thus, a lot of responsibility.

Apple has a responsibility to the environment, to fighting climate change and to the preservation of the world for future generations. If they want to keep on selling shiny computers for decades to come that is... 

In the past, Apple has received a LOT of criticism on its environmental policies. One of the more famous leaked out stories was that in 2007, Apple's board of directors actually recommended shareholders to vote AGAINST proposals for adopting stronger measurements and policies aimed at cutting back the company's carbon footprint and using more recycleable materials.

This did not go unnoticed by the climate hounds over at Greenpeace. That same year, Greenpeace published an article in which they highlighted the hazardous materials that had been found in the iPhone, such as vinyl (PVC) plastic with phthalates, along with brominated compounds. They also argued that, since companies like Sony were already removing toxins from their TV’s, and that Samsung, Nokia, and Puma had also announced to phase out toxic chemicals in all of their products - Apple was seriously lagging behind. 

We know Greenpeace can be quite persistent - annoyingly so even - so they even launched an Apple-imitating website that revolved around the caption: "I love my Mac. I just wish it came in green." The campaign and its aftermath were quite successful. Later that year, Steve Jobs promised Apple would become greener. 

And they delivered. By 2012 Greenpeace ranked Apple 6th in its overview of green electronics manufacturers. 

They didn't stop there and anounced more ambitious goals. Specifically targetting solar and renewables. 
Ever since 2010 Apple started to make the switch to renewable energy. At first by purchasing renewable energy from existing projects, later by building its very own solar projects. 

By now they own and operate two 20 MW solar plants in North Carolina, have a fully solar powered manufacturing facility in Arizona, a solar-powered data center (20MW) in Nevada, and more projects like these. Their impressive new Headquarters in Cupertino (the already-famous UFO), will also be covered in solar panels. 

The most recent announcement was that of a THIRD 20MW plant for its data centers in North Carolina.

Our goal is to power all Apple corporate offices, retail stores, and data centers entirely with energy from renewable sources — solar, wind, micro‑hydro, and geothermal, which uses heat right from the earth. We’re designing new buildings and updating existing ones to use as little electricity as possible. We’re investing in our own Apple onsite energy production as well as establishing relationships with third‑party energy suppliers to source renewable energy. As of 2013, we’ve already converted 73 percent of the energy for all our facilities — 86 percent for our corporate campuses and 100 percent for our data centers. And so far in 2014, we’re powering more than 140 U.S. retail stores with renewable energy.
— Apple

With all this, Greenpeace's love for Apple has flourished and blossomed. They were especially pleased with Apple's "Green Manifesto" and the leading example Apple is setting by making sustainability such a big part of there total brand. 

With the launch of Apple’s new environmental initiative, the world is once again buzzing with comments, critique and speculation on what the world’s biggest brand is doing. Apple’s bold move is an impetus for the private sector to move in the same direction. Renewable energy is ready to become mainstream, and those companies that fail to pick up on the trend will lose their competitive edge.
From the full-page ad in newspapers around the world, to the homepage placement of a powerful video narrated by Tim Cook himself, Apple is launching its first major manifesto in years, making the very public declaration that “environment” is a significant new string to the brand’s bow.
— Kumi Naidoo - Executive Director, Greenpeace

So it's no big surprise that Greenpeace has now ranked Apple as the #1  green internet company, as their online iCloud and iTunes services are completely renewable energy powered. Since the company is also putting so much effort into greening up its manufacturing facilities, office spaces and retail outlets, they aren't doing too bad if you measure up their entire operations. According to the American Solar association SEIA, Apple was (in the U.S.) 2013's 4th largest commercial solar user, outranked only by Walmart, Costco and Kohl's, but topping the likes of IKEA (who have received a lot more praise) and Macy's.

If Greenpeace *hearts* Apple and all evidence seems to suggest that they are clearly doing such great stuff, can we now please be a little less critical about this big company that is setting an incredibly important example for all other tech companies to follow? 


If you want to learn more about Apple's initiatives, go over to their dedicated website: http://www.apple.com/environment/climate-change/


Further reading & viewing: 'Inside the huge Solar Plant that powers Apple's 'iCloud' - http://climatedesk.org/2014/07/inside-the-huge-solar-farm-that-powers-apples-icloud/