What Apple does to protect the planet

April 26, 2018

Apple’s commitment to protecting the planet may be one of the best reasons to choose Apple. 

They are very environmentally conscious and ensure they do what they can to help the planet, they set strict standards to ensure the best materials are used in their devices; they rigorously test, evaluate, amend and enhance their products to ensure that they are not only safe for the user but safe for the planet too.

Apple takes extra care to make sure the materials in its products are safe for people and the planet.

Apple eliminates toxins, like mercury, from its products to help keep pollutants out of the environment.

Reducing carbon footprint
Apple measures their carbon footprint and that of their suppliers, customers and devices and is always looking for ways to make the biggest difference. 

Reducing emissions
Manufacturing makes up 77% of Apple’s carbon footprint. Most of it is due to carbon emissions from the electricity used to make their products. So they’re sourcing lower-carbon materials, partnering with suppliers to reduce their energy use and helping them switch to renewable energy. 

Design, manufacture, test. Repeat
To help protect people and the planet, Apple set strict standards for the materials used in their devices — in many cases going far beyond what’s required by law. 
The evaluation process begins early in the design and manufacturing phases. If replacements for hazardous chemicals aren’t readily available, they work with suppliers to find substitutions or explore how to eliminate the need for that substance. 

When Apple tests replacements, they look for formulations that meet their environmental standards without compromising performance. And, of course, the end product must still live up to the design standards people expect from Apple.

Did you know that Apple screens its materials for 18 different hazards, including carcinogenicity, mutagenicity and endocrine disruption?

Apple run their own Environmental Testing Lab
Apple built their own Environmental Testing Lab, where chemists and toxicologists look for any potentially harmful substances. 

Since 2006, Apple has expanded it to more than 30 times its original size, and have regularly updated it with state-of-the-art equipment — like inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, liquid chromatography mass spectrometry, and a laser-induced breakdown spectrometer similar to the one used by the Mars rover. 

They’ve even manufactured artificial sweat to simulate human exposure and to evaluate the safety of our materials that come into contact with skin. 

To understand the safety of the materials more comprehensively, they’re identified all the substances in every one of the parts they use. So far, they’ve collected the composition of more than 25,000 individual components out of the 50,000 present in their products, and they get data on more parts every day. 

Apple then assess the chemicals in their materials using hazard and risk assessment tools to help them understand their effect on people’s health and on the environment.

Removing the worst toxins 
Apple has continually evaluated the materials used in their products.  When they identify toxins, they reduce them, remove them or develop new materials that are safer. 

These efforts also remove toxins from their manufacturing and recycling processes, which protects the people who make and take apart the products, and keeps pollutants out of the land, air and water.

  • Beryllium– has been eliminated from all new product designs
  • Mercury– was eliminated in 2009
  •  Lead– was phased out of display glass and solder in 2006
  • Arsenic– has been eliminated from display glass since 2008
  • PVC and Phthalates– have been replaced with safer thermoplastic elastomers
  • Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs)– have been eliminated from thousands of parts such as enclosures, circuit boards and connectors in 2008

Green Advisors
Apple formed their own Green Chemistry Advisory Board, made up of some of the world’s leading toxicologists, researchers and academics. The board helps them identify innova­tive ways to minimise or eliminate toxins from their supply chain. They also invite experts from around the world to meet leaders at Apple.

Apple is working to protect the world’s finite resources—with the goal of making its products entirely from recycled materials and renewable resources. 

Today, all the paper used in product packaging comes from sustainably managed forests.

Recovering materials from old devices

There are a lot of valuable materials inside old devices that are perfect for making new products. The challenge is that recovering them is extraordinarily complex and hard to do efficiently. So Apple has been piloting new recycling technologies. With advancements like Daisy, their newest disassembly robot, they can recover more materials and at a higher quality.

Meet Daisy, the ultimate recycling robot.
Apple’s newest disassembly robot, Daisy, is the most innova­tive and efficient way to reclaim more of the valuable materials stored in iPhone. 

Daisy can take apart up to 200 iPhone devices an hour, removing and sorting components, so they can recover materials that traditional recyclers can’t — and at a higher quality. 

A durable device is a greener device
When products can be used longer, fewer resources need to be extracted from the earth to make new ones. So Apple assesses all their products in their Reliability Testing Lab, using rigorous testing methods that simulate customers’ experiences with their devices. 

For example, they analyse how devices stand up to extreme heat and cold, exposure to water and everyday chemicals, and scratch tests from materials like denim and metals like coins. All new materials, including recycled materials, are tested extensively to make sure they meet Apple’s performance and durability standards.

Find out more about Apple’s commitment to protecting the planet >>


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