Apple lays out carbon footprint data

Apple has been pretty forthcoming about its environmental policies in recent years, but given the company's high profile, groups such as Greenpeace have continually pushed for even more transparency. This week, Apple overhauled the environmental section of its website with more data about its efforts, most prominently featuring an extensive breakdown of the company’s annual corporate carbon emissions.

Apple has taken flak in this department for trailing behind the likes of Dell and HP, both of which publish their annual carbon emissions, to the tune of 471,000 tons and 8.4 million tons respectively. Apple, on the other hand, calculates it generates 10.2 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in a year.

Although Dell and HP’s numbers might sound significantly more environmentally friendly, it turns out that they’re limited in what they actually measure. For example, those companies’ figures don’t take into account the impact their products have on the environment during their lifetime. Apple, on the other hand, has explicitly broken down exactly where those 10.2 million tons come from: 38 percent from manufacturing, 5 percent during transportation, 53 percent from product use, 1 percent from recycling, and 3 percent from its own facilities.

More to the point, the information Apple is now providing about its carbon footprint aims to reframe the debate over what it means to be an environmentally-friendly company. It would seem the ball is now in the court of competitors like Dell and HP, who will may quickly come under pressure to provide results as extensive as Apple’s own.

Some environmental experts have lauded Apple’s efforts and are hopeful that the move will spur those competitors to follow Apple’s lead. As always, there are also naysayers who think that Apple is only disclosing selective information that paints it in a positive light. But even the harshest of Apple’s critics have acknowledged that Apple seems to be making genuine strides in the direction of environment friendliness.

[via BusinessWeek]

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