Dan Hume's Blog

Apple and the Environment
January 20, 2010, 10:54 am
Filed under: Personal Planning Reflection and Development 1

Today we were discussing how, as media designers, can we change and come up with solutions to help prevent further damage to the planet in terms of global warming. We looked at a big corporation like Adobe to eco friendly products like LED lighting to see how much effort has been made to reduce carbon emissions.

I’ve decided to look at Apple and research how much consideration goes into there products when thinking about the environment. I have some really interesting information on how the consider their manufacturing, transportation, product use, recycling and facilities.


Including extraction of raw materials and product assembly — accounts for 38 percent of Apple’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Material Use

Apple designs are smaller, thinner, lighter products, and they do more with less material. MacBook Pro features a revolutionary unibody design, which replaces dozens of individual parts with a single piece of recyclable aluminium. And today’s 20-inch iMac uses 55 percent less material than its first-generation, 15-inch predecessor. That’s a material savings of 10,000 metric tonnes — the equivalent of 7200 Toyota Priuses — for every one million iMac computers sold.


Five percent of Apple’s greenhouse gas emissions are a result of transporting their products from assembly locations todistribution hubs in regions where  their products are sold.

Smaller Packaging

Efficient packaging design helps reduce the emissions produced during transportation. The packaging for the 13-Inch Macbook Pro, for example, is 41% smaller than the previous- generation Macbook.

That means 50% more boxes fit on each shipping pallet, more pallets fit on each boat and plane and fewer boats and planes are used – resulting in fewer CO2 emissions.

By reducing our packaging over 40 percent between 2006 and 2009, we ship 50 percent more boxes in each airline shipping container. That saves one 747 flight for every 32,000 units we ship.

Product Use

The use of our products generates 53 percent of Apple’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy efficiency

The majority of greenhouse gas emissions Apple accounts for are produced when you plug in our products and start using them. That’s why we design all our products to be as energy efficient as possible. Take Mac mini, for example. It uses as little as a quarter the power consumed by a typical lightbulb, making it one of the most energy-efficient desktop computer in the world. Because Apple designs both the hardware and the software required for this kind of smart power management, they’re able to increase the efficiency of every product they make. In fact, Apple is the only company in the industry whose entire desktop and notebook product line meets the strict energy efficiency requirements set by the EPA’s ENERGY STAR programme.


One percent of Apple’s total greenhouse gas emissions are related to recycling.

Product recyclability

Apple’s approach to recycling begins in the design stage, where we create compact, efficient products that require less material to produce. And the materials they do use — including arsenic-free glass, high-grade aluminium and strong polycarbonate — are highly valuable to recyclers.


Apple’s facilities – including corporate offices, distribution hubs, data centers and retail stores – account for 3% of their total greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy Use

Apple reduces energy use in their facilities in a number of ways. They have installed energy efficient lighting and added motion sensors for automatic shutoff, saving over two million kilowatt-hours of electricity since 2006. We used enough renewable energy in 2008 to power our entire Austin facility and 25 percent of their cork facility free from conventional grid  power – eliminating thousands of metric tons of CO2 emissions. By the end of 2009, both their Cork and Elk Grove facilities will operate entirely on renewable energy. And, of course, they use energy – efficient Apple computers in all their facilities.

Employee Computer Programs

Apple provides its employees with alternatives to driving their own vehicles to work. Many employees take advantage of their public transportation incentives. And each day, up to six hundred Apple employees ride their free biodiesel commuter coaches. They estimate that these programs have eliminated four million miles of single-occupant car journeys. That’s 7.2 metric tons fewer CO2 emissions every business day.


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