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Apple's Supply Chain Making Strides Toward Renewable Energy

Apple is nearing its goal of running on full 100 percent renewable energy. They’ve already accomplished that feat in the United States and in 23 other countries. What remains are the supply chains that the tech giant works with. Eight of those companies are in the process of helping Apple reach their goal.

Supply chain companies aren’t directly under the Apple umbrella, but they create the materials needed for iPhones, MacBooks, and other products. Most of them are located in China, a country that is aggressively pushing renewable energy. One province recently had great success running on sustainable sources for an entire week.

Jabil, who manufactures parts for the iPhone, is planning to run all of their companies in China with renewable energy by 2018. They’ve been working with provinces these factories are located in to install wind farms and on-site solar panels. GreenBiz reports that Apple “is investing in at least 20 solar projects that will generate about 12 megawatts.”

Eric Austermann, Jabil’s Vice President of Social and Environmental Responsibility, noted that his company has been working on their carbon footprint for many years and have also put efforts into recycling materials. 

"Jabil has for several years been driving a sustainability strategy that of consistent reduction of carbon emissions and energy consumption, as well as the positive stewardship of water resources and recycling. This partnership with Apple is one way we are leveraging our own commitment."
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Jabil has been one of the more aggressive supply chains heading into renewable energy, with a goal of reaching 90 percent by the end of this year. Other companies that are joining the iPhone parts manufacturer include Biel Crystal (glass maker), Lens One (glass cover manufacturer), Catcher Technology (diecasting), Solvay (composting), Sunwoda (batteries), and Compal (manufacturing contractor).

With all these companies planning to get out of traditional power generation, that provides over four gigawatts of newly installed sustainable sources by 2020. Over two gigawatts will be in China, and Apple has installed 485 megawatts of solar and wind generation capacity in the country. These supply chains account for 77 percent of Apple’s total carbon footprint.

Apple Park, which opened up in April 2017 at Cupertino, California, is the company’s new headquarters that mostly runs on renewable energy. The building itself features a capacity of 17 megawatts through solar panels on the roof, and the company claims that it’s “one of the largest on-site solar energy installations in the world.” It also features natural ventilation, meaning it doesn’t need any air conditioning or heating for nine months every year. 

The tech giant is also planning a closed-loop supply chain in the future. This would make all the materials in their phones, computers, and other gadgets come from recycled products, along with all the paper and packaging. They’re also pushing their Apple Renew program to get consumers sending back old Apple products to recycle.

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