Apple CEO Tim Cook doesn’t believe companies need to choose between success and helping the environment. And he plans to challenge other companies to take that to heart.
“The choice between the bottom line and the future of our planet is a false one, and each new green innovation offers the proof,” Cook is expected to say at the UN Climate Ambition Summit on Saturday, according to prepared remarks.
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As part of his speech, Cook touts that Apple has added 25 suppliers to the 70 it’s already helping transition to 100% renewable energy. He also notes Apple’s other efforts, including that it’s become carbon neutral for its worldwide corporate emissions.
Ultimately, Cook says, Apple wants its entire supply chain and product usage to be carbon neutral within a decade.
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Cook’s remarks follow a long history of Apple’s public efforts to reduce its impacts on the environment. It instituted environmental report cards for its devices in 2008. Since then, Apple has slimmed its device packaging, reduced reliance on plastic in its devices, and started integrating recycled materials into its devices. The company has also created advanced robots to pull apart iPhones that it can no longer refurbish, sending rare minerals, batteries, and aluminum cases to be recycled and reused.
One of the gadget maker’s biggest green initiatives this year was Apple’s decision not to include a power adapter brick with its newest Apple Watches and iPhone 12 headsets.
“Sometimes, it’s not what we make, but what we don’t make that counts,” Lisa P. Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, said at one of Apple’s product announcements in September. She added that Apple knows its customers are accumulating USB adapters and that making millions of them “consumes resources and adds to our carbon footprint.”
The change also let the company shrink the box its devices come in, saving space in shipping containers and on store shelves. Apple estimates the change will be the equivalent of taking tens of thousands of cars off the road.
Environmental and sustainability experts commend Apple’s efforts. Critics noted that the effort will likely increase Apple’s adapter sales to people who don’t already have one at home.
Though Apple has made progress producing key products in more environmentally friendly ways, it struggles with some of its other devices. Apple’s AirPods headphones, for example, are sealed shut, meaning users can’t replace their batteries as they degrade over the years. Apple could sell 90 million AirPods this year, and up to 115 million next year, according to estimates.
Cook, in his prepared remarks, says companies need to dramatically step up their environmental efforts. “This is no time for changes at the margins,” he says. “We call on companies and governments around the world to do all we can to make 2021 the year we turn the corner for good.”