Six sustainability initiatives Apple is doing to save the environment

By Richard Conn

Apple is not only the world’s most recognizable brand but also the most valuable, with an estimated value in 2020 of $205.5 billion

The main contributors to that value are its iPhone range and its Macs, with laptop sales recently regaining market leadership. 

Apple is now going green with a goal of becoming 100% carbon neutral by 2030. 

We look at six sustainability initiatives that are helping them reach that target.

Lowering the Use of Carbon Materials

Since its introduction in 2007, the iPhone has sold over 1.5 billion units. Their phones also play a major part in the world of e-commerce marketing

But with demand for products growing, how do you find balance? One approach is to increase the amount of both low carbon and recycled materials in products, be innovative in  recycling old products, and make design more energy-efficient. 

One innovation is “Dave”, a recycling robot designed to recover rarer materials such as earth magnets and tungsten from old phones, as well as a percentage of the steel used. 

Apple also has a specialist Material Recovery Lab located in Texas and has partnered with Carnegie Mellon University to research new recycling solutions. 

Sales channel strategies that incorporate environmental policies will have more appeal to the modern, climate-conscious consumer. 


Renewable energy

Making the move to renewable energy is the cornerstone of Apple’s green policies.  

Apple’s new headquarters opened in California in 2017 and is 100% powered by solar panels. The company also planted 9,000 new trees on the site.  

In 43 countries, all of its stores, offices, and data centers are entirely powered by renewable energy. This is contributing to a positive effect on pollution both globally and at a local level.  

Apple extends this to its supply chain. More than 70 suppliers have committed to using 100% renewable energy. This will be equal to taking over three million cars off the roads. 

Apple has always been at the forefront of industry innovations, such as being able to send fax from computer. Now they are applying innovation in green policies into their business model. 

With many consumers increasingly caring about eco-centric issues, this can play a big part in the psychology of closing sales. 

Innovations in materials

Most people see innovations in terms of features in their iPhones, Macs, and other solutions, such as a cloud phone system

But Apple is currently working closely with two of its aluminum suppliers to develop the first carbon-free aluminum smelting process. They have developed extremely low carbon aluminum that is being used for parts and components in the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

Another problem is fluorinated gases, which contributes to global warming. Through working  with partners, Apple reduced use of these gases by more than 242,000 metric tons in 2019.

Green credentials can extend to software too. If the company producing software tools – for example, time management tools – have solid environmental policies, then this can help with overall sales. 



China is a major part of Apple’s manufacturing chain. An estimated 30% of all iPhone 6 orders are built there. 

But due to its coal-burning power plants, China faces major pollution issues. To help with this, Apple launched the China Clean Energy Fund and has invested just under $300 million toward developing clean energy there.

The fund aims to be able to produce around one gigawatt of clean renewable energy. It is hoped that all iPhones manufactured or assembled in China will be in plants powered by renewable energy by the end of 2020. 

Reducing the use of conflict materials

Although ‘blood diamonds’ is a phrase most people recognize, fewer people are aware of the term “conflict minerals.” These usually come from areas of the world where there is some form of conflict and are obtained through the exploitative use of workers, with human trafficking and slavery often involved and the proceeds helping to prolong and fund the conflict. 

The main three conflict minerals are tin, tungsten, and tantalum (the 3 Ts), but gold can also be included. A common source of these minerals is the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), an area with ongoing violence and human rights violations.

Apple has now ceased relationships with any mineral providers that fail Apple’s intensive auditing process. By working with suppliers and smelters that are certified as ethical and conflict-free, Apple hopes to reduce the demand from areas such as the DRC.  

External Work

The company realizes that this is a global issue and so have extended their efforts outside the Apple family. Some of their initiatives include:

  • A carbon solutions fund that seeks to invest in restoring and protecting forests and other ecosystems around the world.
  • Partnership with Conservation International that has seen investment in a multitude of projects, including restoring damaged savannahs and mangrove forests.
  • Partnerships with Conservation International, WWF, and The Conservation Fund, which have helped to protect, restore, and manage more than one million acres of forests and other natural climate barriers around the world.

Environmental policies implemented by Apple could give you ideas for material to include for virtual team building with new channel partners. 


The takeaway

Apple was long criticized for its negative environmental impact. In recent years, however, it has made a huge amount of progress. 

If it applies the same effort to these subjects as it does to providing conference calling provider solutions, then it will no doubt continue to hit its targets. 

As companies look to solutions such as call-center tracking as part of their digital tool kits, solutions providers who have green credentials will have an advantage.  

Its 2019 Environmental Responsibility Report showed that the company had reduced its carbon footprint by a massive 35% over the previous three years. Apple even received a special award in 2019. 

With ambitious goals in place, and programs to tackle environmental issues both within the company and on the global stage, Apple is setting an example for other corporations to follow. 

Richard Conn is the senior director, Search Marketing for RingCentral, a global leader in unified communications and call center service provider.

He is passionate about connecting businesses and customers and has experience working with Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Experian, Target, Nordstrom, Kayak, Hilton, and Kia. Richard has written for sites such as Clicdata and Marketscale.

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