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Apple data centers now 100 percent renewable-powered, but emissions rise 34 percent

post #1 of 28
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Apple's data centers are 100 percent powered by renewable energy, and its corporate facilities are increasingly green, but a new report from the company shows that its greenhouse gas emissions actually increased by 34 percent in 2012.

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The Apple and the Environment report aims to explore Apple's environmental impact from the production and transport of its products through their use by consumers, as well as the environmental costs associated with the support features Apple provides. The data centers that provide online services to Apple customers, the company says, are now completely powered by renewable energy. Facilities in Austin, Elk Grove, Cork, and Munich, as well as the Infinite Loop campus in Cupertino, now rely on a combination of wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, and solar energy to function.

Apple also says that renewable energy use at its corporate facilities has increased by 114 percent, so that now 75 percent of its facilities are powered by solar, wind, hydroelectric, and geothermal sources.
Data centers and facilities account for only two percent of Apple's total carbon footprint.
By the report's own admission, though, its data centers and facilities account for only two percent of Apple's total carbon footprint. The remaining 98 percent stems from the manufacture, transport, use, and recycling of its products. A full 61 percent of Apple's carbon footprint ? 18,934,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions ? comes from the manufacture of its products. For bestselling products like the iPhone 5, the manufacturing process is the source of 76 percent of the 75kg of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the life cycle of one unit. For the newest iPads, that figure is 68 percent.

In total, Apple estimates that its operations produced 30.9 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2012, up 34 percent over the company's 2011 estimates. The increase in emissions, the report notes, is due to the expanding sales of Apple devices. Apple has, since 2008, decreased the amount of greenhouse gasses it emits per dollar of revenue by 21.5 percent.

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The company has been successful in reducing carbon emissions associated with many of its products. Emissions for the 2012 Apple TV are 90 percent lower than they were for the 2007 model, while the 2012 Mac mini causes only half the emissions of its 2007 forebear. The 15-inch MacBook Pro produces six percent fewer emissions over its lifetime than did the 2006 model.
A full 61 percent of Apple's carbon footprint comes from the manufacture of its products.
The other sizable contributor to Apple's environmental impact is the lifetime use of its products, accounting for 30 percent of the company's carbon footprint. Apple points to the company's focus on energy efficiency as evidence of its commitment to "green products." Today's Mac mini, the report says, uses as little as one-fifth of the power consumed by an incandescent 60W lightbulb. Apple says that its 2012 Mac mini, 11-inch MacBook Air, iPad mini, Apple TV, and iPhone 5 all, on a per-hour basis, produce fewer emissions than a 13W CFL lightbulb.

Eighteen percent of the lifetime greenhouse gas emissions for an iPhone 5 come from customer use. For the fourth-generation iPad and the iPad mini, those figures are 23 and 22 percent, respectively.

About two percent of Apple's carbon impact stems from efforts at recycling its products. The section of the report dealing with recycling is short on details, saying instead that the company is committed to developing long-lasting products.

Apple also says it established and met a goal to achieve a worldwide recycling rate of 70 percent. This rate is calculated by assuming a seven-year product lifetime for Apple wares and comparing the weight of the materials Apple recycles each year to the weight of the materials it sold seven years earlier. Apple is confident it will maintain a 70 percent recycling rate through 2015, the seven-year anniversary of the introduction of the iPhone.

iMacs
Apple's use of glue and proprietary screws, some say, makes its products harder to recycle and thus less environmentally friendly.


Recycling in particular has been a point of contention between Apple and assorted environmental groups. Most recently, the company came under fire when it decided to withdraw its products from the government-backed "green electronics" EPEAT certification. Following a wave of public criticism, Apple acknowledged a "mistake" and refiled for eligibility for a number of its products.

Subsequent granting of EPEAT Gold status for some Apple products drew the ire of environmentally-minded observers, who claimed that Apple's use of glued-in components and proprietary screws made some Apple products essentially unrecyclable, and thus environmentally unfriendly devices.

AppleInsider spoke Wednesday with Gary Cook, Senior IT Analyst for Greenpeace, who praised Apple's increasing transparency in its environmental reporting. Apple's commitment to clean energy, Cook said, is encouraging, but the company's commitment to transparency is even more so.
"It's good for consumers to know that they can use these tools like iCloud and know that they're not increasing their carbon footprint."
?Greenpeace's Gary Cook

"We're pleased to see evidence that Apple is following through on its commitment to make its centers 100 percent renewable," Cook said. "It's good for consumers to know that they can use these tools like iCloud and know that they're not increasing their carbon footprint."

Greenpeace has clashed with Apple in the past, specifically over the company's plans to power its data centers. Apple's commitment to transparency, Cook says, can help set a standard for other companies to follow.

"Increased transparency shows an example that others can follow to provide details so that customers can see the impact of what they're buying," Cook continued. "We can use that information to challenge other companies."
post #2 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Emissions for the 2012 Apple TV are 90 percent lower than they were for the 2007 model...


It looks like the 2013 Apple TV cuts the idle power in half. I don't know if that has a direct 1:1 ratio on the CO2e but it could bring it lower than the iPhone 5.

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post #3 of 28
Greenpeace complains that employees are still driving gasoline powered cars and creating methane after eating in the cafeterias.
post #4 of 28
The emissions increase comes from all the hot air generated by industry analysts, media pundits and other members of the Hirudinea subclass.
post #5 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by danvdr View Post

Greenpeace complains that employees are still driving gasoline powered cars and creating methane after eating in the cafeterias.

They are hypocrites. If you tell them the best way to lower their carbon footprint is to kill themselves they won't do it. They could at least castrate/neuter themselves so they won't add to the problem with later generations.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #6 of 28

A human emits between .5 and 1kg of COper day just breathing. More if you exercise.

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post #7 of 28
It occurs to me that if their *unit sales* are also up overall, that would naturally mean a corresponding increase in emissions.
post #8 of 28

In Apple's effort to be 'greener', did the production of building their 'green' data centers produce more pollutants that starts them out in the negative and if so, how long would it take to compensate to where the data centers truly can be called green?  Like the myth that electric cars that are pushed for their 'green' value but yet a study found that the production of green electric powered cars pollute more to create versus fossil fuel cars?  At least the owners are falsely lead to believe that they are doing good by the environment...

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post #9 of 28

A vast amount of Apple's emissions are indirect (or more precisely, "Scope 3") emissions, as they happen outside its gates.

 

Manufacturing accounts for 61%. As we know, Apple does very little manufacturing; so, it's really the emissions associated with Apple's suppliers (perhaps most of it Foxconn). Product use accounts for 30%, and the emissions there are largely a function of fossil fuels used in producing the electricity that Apple's customers consume to run its products (as Apple grows its consumer base in heavily dirty-coal dependent countries like India and China, this proportion will get worse).

 

While these two are obviously outside Apple's direct control, one would assume that Apple's continued efforts in working on supplier responsibility issues and making products more energy efficient have a gone long way to mitigate those relative to what it might have been, given its dramatic growth.

 

It should be noted that: (i) most companies do not present their 'life cycle' data, and data at the product level in as much detail and with as much clarity as Apple does; (ii) Apple is doing a bang-up job of getting in front of its direct (or more precisely, "Scope 1" and "Scope 2") emissions.

post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post

In Apple's effort to be 'greener', did the production of building their 'green' data centers produce more pollutants that starts them out in the negative and if so, how long would it take to compensate to where the data centers truly can be called green?  Like the myth that electric cars that are pushed for their 'green' value but yet a study found that the production of green electric powered cars pollute more to create versus fossil fuel cars?  At least the owners are falsely lead to believe that they are doing good by the environment...

Commercial construction today -- with LEED standards and such -- is vastly less polluting today than a decade ago. Remarkable progress has been made, and companies like Apple wouldn't even contemplate building something today that does not meet 'platinum' standards.

 

There is simply no basis for comparing it to automobile production. Inform yourself here: http://new.usgbc.org/leed

 

You are, however, absolutely right about 'green' vehicles being more polluting to produce (and even more polluting at end-of-life disposal) than fossil fuel-powered vehicles. They have come a long way too, but not as much as LEED has (for example, the life-cycle emissions from the Prius 1 were worse than the Hummer 1!).

post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


They are hypocrites. If you tell them the best way to lower their carbon footprint is to kill themselves they won't do it. They could at least castrate/neuter themselves so they won't add to the problem with later generations.


Greenpeace is not a monolithic entity. So it's hard and unfair to paint all members as hypocrites. Some Greenpeace members are. Some are genuine and not so extreme.

 

Overall, Greenpeace has done our society a lot of good. If not for their sometimes extreme actions, the environmental pendulum would be much farther over to the other side. They have also inspired less extreme groups. The world needs extreme leftists to balance out the other end of the spectrum. I cringe at some of their histrionics, but I am thankful for their existence.

post #12 of 28

Interesting that both an incandescent lightbulb and a CFL bulb emit more CO2 than an iPhone or even a Mac. Ergo, the inspiration to design a great product has greater impact on the environment than using the product itself.

post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by ankleskater View Post


Greenpeace is not a monolithic entity. So it's hard and unfair to paint all members as hypocrites. Some Greenpeace members are. Some are genuine and not so extreme.

Overall, Greenpeace has done our society a lot of good. If not for their sometimes extreme actions, the environmental pendulum would be much farther over to the other side. They have also inspired less extreme groups. The world needs extreme leftists to balance out the other end of the spectrum. I cringe at some of their histrionics, but I am thankful for their existence.

Fair points and my apologies if I offended but I was really just making a joke, which are usually done by exploiting a stereotype.

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by ankleskater View Post

Greenpeace is not a monolithic entity. So it's hard and unfair to paint all members as hypocrites. Some Greenpeace members are. Some are genuine and not so extreme.

 

Overall, Greenpeace has done our society a lot of good. If not for their sometimes extreme actions, the environmental pendulum would be much farther over to the other side. They have also inspired less extreme groups. The world needs extreme leftists to balance out the other end of the spectrum. I cringe at some of their histrionics, but I am thankful for their existence.

Whether it's Greenpeace on the left or Limbaugh on the right, lies, exaggeration, histrionics, and over-the-top behavior -- however infrequent -- just degrades public discourse. It's no better than a kid throwing a tantrum.

 

I am not at all thankful for that.

post #15 of 28

" The remaining 98 percent stems from the manufacture, transport, use, and recycling of its products. A full 61 percent of Apple's carbon footprint — 18,934,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions — comes from the manufacture of its products."

 

And people still think Apple's going to start building, 40"-55" "TV sets" (Samsung panels?) and then stuffing cargo planes full of these things to ship all around the world. (sheesh)

Can't wait to see someone at the Genius Bar, waiting for support with one of these things. 1biggrin.gif
 

post #16 of 28

It's good to see a company be so transparent about their green efforts. Well done, Apple.

post #17 of 28

It's funny when large corporations pretend they care about the environment when they have all their products made in China because of the lower costs of China not having real environmental regulations to protect their workers and neighboring citizens. As long as the pollution is killing poor people in a different country large corps can 'Green Wash' and BS the masses so they will continue to be happy little brand-loyal consumers.

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post #18 of 28
Originally Posted by Commodification View Post
It's funny when large corporations pretend they care about the environment when they have all their products made in China because of the lower costs of China not having real environmental regulations to protect their workers and neighboring citizens. As long as the pollution is killing poor people in a different country large corps can 'Green Wash' and BS the masses so they will continue to be happy little brand-loyal consumers.


Thanks for a window into your fantasyland. Now close the shutters for us.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

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There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

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post #19 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


Fair points and my apologies if I offended but I was really just making a joke, which are usually done by exploiting a stereotype.


No apologies required and not offended at all (although I didn't catch the joke because GP is so frequently labeled as hypocritical 1smile.gif). But I just wanted to make a counter-point.

 

I am not a fan of unions either. But, if we were to be honest with ourselves, a comparison of labor conditions in China and in Europe would suggest that unions have done much good. Ditto regarding environmental activists and oil companies.

 

The world needs all sorts of people and all varieties of groups. That's how we hopefully reach a state of progressive equilibrium.

post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Whether it's Greenpeace on the left or Limbaugh on the right, lies, exaggeration, histrionics, and over-the-top behavior -- however infrequent -- just degrades public discourse. It's no better than a kid throwing a tantrum.

 

I am not at all thankful for that.


Yes, both sides are over the top. But, sometimes (if not often), out of the frenzy emerges important ideas. If we were all middle-of-the-road thinkers, the world would be a worse place.

post #21 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Commodification View Post

It's funny when large corporations pretend .....

'Pretend'?

 

When you use a carrier pigeon (brought up on organic grains) to deliver a hand-written note on a dried palm leaf to AI's offices -- instead of a computer (probably made in China) that you used -- you can talk.

 

Until then, the finger points at you.

post #22 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

'Pretend'?

 

When you use a carrier pigeon (brought up on organic grains) to deliver a hand-written note on a dried palm leaf to AI's offices -- instead of a computer (probably made in China) that you used -- you can talk.

 

Until then, the finger points at you.


Carrier pigeons emit quite the load when in flight.

post #23 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by ankleskater View Post

Yes, both sides are over the top. But, sometimes (if not often), out of the frenzy emerges important ideas. If we were all middle-of-the-road thinkers, the world would be a worse place.

Just to clarify, nothing at all I said implied that we should be middle-of-the-road thinkers!

 

Radical thinking, you'll agree, is not the same as " lies, exaggeration, histrionics, and over-the-top behavior." It's the latter I am not thankful for.

post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by ankleskater View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

'Pretend'?

 

When you use a carrier pigeon (brought up on organic grains) to deliver a hand-written note on a dried palm leaf to AI's offices -- instead of a computer (probably made in China) that you used -- you can talk.

 

Until then, the finger points at you.


Carrier pigeons emit quite the load when in flight.

100% recyclable.

post #25 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

A human emits between .5 and 1kg of COper day just breathing. More if you exercise.

That's what happens when you take only a tiny portion of the energy cycle and try to draw conclusions.

The CO2 you exhale comes from the food you eat. The food (at least, the plant food) grows by absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere and converting it into plant material for your consumption. So there's no net increase in CO2 from a person's breathing.

Animal food is a little more complex, but the end result is the same.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueDjinn View Post

It occurs to me that if their *unit sales* are also up overall, that would naturally mean a corresponding increase in emissions.

Exactly. Sales up 50%, CO2 emissions up 34%. Seems reasonable.
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post #26 of 28
Greenpeace should stop smoking the green peace pipe
post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


That's what happens when you take only a tiny portion of the energy cycle and try to draw conclusions.

The CO2 you exhale comes from the food you eat. The food (at least, the plant food) grows by absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere and converting it into plant material for your consumption. So there's no net increase in CO2 from a person's breathing.

Animal food is a little more complex, but the end result is the same.
Exactly. Sales up 50%, CO2 emissions up 34%. Seems reasonable.

I agree with the concept - looking at a small portion of any cycle can be misleading.  Not sure there is a net zero in a person's breath, but the idea of having a zero level carbon footprint is not attainable, nor required to be sustainable for the planet - there are far more plants and trees converting CO2 to O2 to deal with animals respiration levels.  Our solar production handles all our power needs and all our Chevy Volt power charging needs, but our carbon footprint is far from zero.  We grow a good deal of our food - However, I would hate to have someone like Greenpeace "target me", as I'm sure they would only point out the 2 x 4's, bolts, nails, etc that we bring into our home.  

Some of the things missing from the "environment" discussion is how Apple compares to it's peers, and more importantly what environmental savings iDevices (and the like) bring to the world.  From what I understand, Apple's competitors fail to do better than Apple in any of the areas discussed in the report - in most areas, others, have a higher environmental impact.  So, buying an Apple's competitors product wouldn't reduce the environmental impact, but rather increase the environmental impact.

 

The second, and larger (ignored) piece of the environmental impact is the savings iDevices (and the like) bring to the table.  The world is shipping a bunch of devices, but we are shipping far less CDs, DVDs since the easy access to services like iTunes - all made more practical with an iDevice.  I don't profess to know all of the environmental savings, but do know I do far less driving because of the mobile devices (Apple's as well as other manufacturers).  Since Apple's mobile devices are used far more than it's competitors, the environmental benefits would be larger with Apple products.

Somewhere in the discussion,  we should be including  the other side of the equation - otherwise, this type of report is meaningless.

post #28 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Animal food is a little more complex, but the end result is the same.
 

If people would stop eating meat and dairy, we could dramatically reduce the amount of methane released into the atmosphere by cows.

 

Either that or capture it and use it to product electricity.lol.gif

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