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How sustainable is Apple ?

Apple & sustainability


Apple
Reasonable, could be better Click here for score rapport: 20 out of 39

Sustainability summary

Apple has achieved the C-label. Apple is on its way towards sustainability, but more improvement is needed. The brand gets good points for its efforts regarding labor conditions, however, there clearly is still a long way to go. Apple partners with multiple initiatives to avoid conflict minerals and unfair labor conditions in the production chain. Furthermore, Apple is among the electronics brand with the highest use of renewable energy. On the other hand, Apple has a lot of areas where improvement is needed, such as transparency about recycling in its production and clearly increasing the life-cycle of products.

Brand owner: Apple Inc.
Head office: Cupertino, CA, USA
Sector: Electronics
Categories : Smartphone, Laptop, notebook, Tablet, PC
Free Tags: iPad, iPhone, iWatch, MacBook, HiFi & Audio, TV & Home cinema, Headphone, Phone, Computer

What's your sustainability news about Apple?

Apple sustainability score report

Last edited: 17 May 2016 by Hilary
Last reviewed: 17 May 2016 by Mario

Questions about Climate Change/ Carbon Emissions

5 out of 6
1. Is there a policy for the brand (company) to minimize, reduce or compensate carbon emissions? Apple implements several measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as the increasing use of renewable energy and making its product more energy efficient (see link, page 5-15). Source
2. Has the brand (company) disclosed the annual absolute carbon footprint of its 'own operations' (Scope 1 & 2) and has the brand already reduced or compensated 10% of these emissions in the last 5 years? Apple reduced its effective own operations climate footprint (Scope 1&2) from 160,380 tons of CO2e in FY12 to 70,560 tons of CO2e in FY15, which represents a reduction of around 56% (see link, page 29). Source
3. Has the brand (company) set a target to reduce its absolute ‘own operations’ carbon emissions by at least 20% within the next 5 years? Apple does not communicate information on total target reductions for its greenhouse gas emissions of own operations (see link, page 5-15). Source
4. Does the brand (company) publish the annual carbon footprint that also covers the major suppliers, and does the brand have an effective policy in place to reduce these carbon emissions? Apple publishes a climate footprint including the full production chain, covering all products, and provides life-cycle assessments and environmental reports for each product. Also Apple describes its policies to reduce climate emissions in the supply chain (see link, download "Climate Change 2015 Response"). Source
5. Is at least 35% of the electricity used by the brand (company) generated from renewable resources, such as wind or solar energy? Apple reports a use of renewable energy of 93% for its global operations in FY15 (Scope 1&2). The energy is generated on-site, grid and local energy (thereby preferentially newly generated) and RECS certificates. But, the exact ratio of renewable energy generated per type, source and additionality should be better specified (see link, page 5-12, 33-36). Source
6. Do all new products of the brand meet energy efficiency requirements such as Energy Star (where applicable)? Apple states that all its products meet or exceed the requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. For example, its notebooks are up to five times as energy efficient as the ENERGY STAR specification, and its desktop computers are up to seven times as energy efficient (see link, page 10). Source

Questions about Environmental Policy

7 out of 19
1. Has the brand (company) eliminated PVC in all new products? Apple states that all power cords are PVC-free, with the exception of items produced in India and South Korea, where Apple seeks government approval for PVC replacement (see link, page 25 & 50). Source
2. Has the brand (company) eliminated BFR's in all new products? BFRs were eliminated from Apple products in 2008 (see link, page 25). Source
3. Has the brand (company) eliminated at least 2 of the 3 groups of suspect chemicals (beryllium, antimony and phthalates) in all its new products already? Apple has eliminated beryllium and phthalates for a part of its production, but does not yet report, whether those chemicals can be considered as entirely eliminated. No status is reported for the phase-out of antimony (see link, page 25). Source
4. Has the brand (company) banned the use of benzene and n-hexane in the final assembly of products? Apple explicitly prohibits the use of benzene and n-hexane as cleaning agents or degreasers from use in all final assembly manufacturing processes (see link, page 18 & 19). Source
5. Has the brand (company) banned the use of benzene and n-hexane in the full production chains? Apple has not banned benzene and n-hexane in the full production chain. Source
6. Does the brand (company) publish its annual material footprint, or alternatively material footprints for each sold product, and does the brand have an effective policy in place to reduce the overall environmental impact of material use? Apple mentions a policy to reduce its material footprint as well as a policy to use recycled materials for its products. Apple publishes material footprints for each product. Source
7. Does the brand offer the charger as optional to the product? Apple does not mention anything about offering the charger as optional to the products. Source
8. Does the brand (company) source at least 10% of its plastics from recycled plastic streams and does the give a timeline to increase this percentage to at least 25% by 2025 ? Apple reports that in FY15 13.422 tons of plastics were recovered for reuse. But, Apple does not specify its actual share of recycled plastic materials used (see link, page 17). Source
9. Does the brand (company) source at least 20% of its plastics from recycled plastic streams? See remark for environmental policy question 8. Source
10. Does the brand have clear objectives to minimize the environmental impact of packaging, by reducing, re-using and recycling, and does the brand annually report on these results? Apple implements several measures related to more sustainable packaging. But, Apple does not publish the annual packaging volumes/weights per material type (see link, page 21-23). At least, per product its packaging material footprint is specified (see link at environmental question 6). Source
11. Has the brand (company) a take back program and is the take back recyling rate higher than 5% of the weight of the annually products sold? Apple is not clear about its actual take back recycling rate (see link, page 16-17). Source
12. Is the take back recyling rate higher than 10% of the weight of the annually products sold? See remark for environmental policy question 11. Source
13. Has the brand (company) an active policy in place to increase the product life-span of products, such as longer warranty periods or easy repair with easy ordering of spare parts? Apple implements measures to manage its products life-cycle, but no clear best practice examples concerning prolonging its products lifespan are specified. Source
14. Does the brand (company) use replaceable batteries in all portable devices? Apple offers replaceable battery services for all its portable devices. Source
15. Does the brand (company) provide online repair manuals for all products? Online repair manuals for Apple products are provided via iFixit. Source
16. Does the brand (company) guarantee supply of spare parts and software updates for all products, for at least 3 years after end of production? Owners of iPad, iPhone, iPod or Mac products may obtain service and parts from Apple or Apple service providers for 5 years after the product is no longer manufactured (or longer where required by law). iOS software updates are compatible for all post-2007 models. Source
17. Does the brand (company) give at least a 3 years warranty on all products? Although Apple analyses the product life cycles based on at least a 3 year life span, Apple offers a one year guarantee on its products. Source
18. Does the brand (company) publish a water and/or land use footprint and is there a policy to minimize, reduce or compensate this footprint? Apple reported a water footprint of 573 million gallons in FY15, which represents a 16% increase from FY14. Apple reports measures to reduce this footprint through i.e. drought-tolerant landscaping and drip irrigation (see link, page 19). Source
19. Does the brand (company) publish a water and/or land use footprint that also covers its most important suppliers? Apple provides some information concerning its 'Clean Water Program', but does not specify a water and / or land use footprint that also covers its most important suppliers (see link, page 19). Source

Questions about Labour Conditions/ Fair Trade

8 out of 14
1. Does the brand (company) regularly publish an updated list of smelters that are identified in the own supply chain? Apple publishes a list of smelters, effective as of December 2015. Source
2. Does the brand (company) have a clear policy to only source from smelters that have passed the conflict-free audits, and has the brand already achieved this for at least one metal/mineral? Apple states it is committed to responsible sourcing, and is working to ensure that minerals used in its products (like tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold) do not finance armed conflict. But, Apple does not yet clearly specify, whether at least one metal/mineral can be considered as entirely conflict-free (see link, page 13-14). Source
3. Is the brand (company) significantly involved in at least 1 initiative that addresses the urgent appeal to improve the social and environmental conditions of mining metals and minerals; for example tin from endangered tropical islands Bangka and Belitung, conflict minerals from Congo, etc? Apple is a partner of the 'Conflict-Free Smelter Program' (CFSP). Source
4. Is the brand (company) significantly involved in at least 2 initiatives that addresses the urgent appeal to improve the social and environmental conditions of mining metals and minerals; for example tin from endangered tropical islands Bangka and Belitung, conflict minerals from Congo, etc? Apple is also a member of the 'Public-Private Alliance (PPA) for Responsible Minerals Trade'. Source
5. Is the brand (company) significantly involved in at least 3 initiatives that addresses the urgent appeal to improve the social and environmental conditions of mining metals and minerals; for example tin from endangered tropical islands Bangka and Belitung, conflict minerals from Congo, etc? Apple also partners with the 'IDH Bangka Tin Working Group'. Source
6. Is the brand (company) significantly involved in at least 4 initiatives that addresses the urgent appeal to improve the social and environmental conditions of mining metals and minerals; for example tin from endangered tropical islands Bangka and Belitung, conflict minerals from Congo, etc? Apple also partners with the 'ITRI Tin Supply Chain Initiative (see link, page 14). Source
7. Does the brand (company) have a Code of Conduct (CoC) for both its own factories and those of its suppliers, which includes the following standards: No forced or slave labor, no child labor, no discrimination of any kind and a safe and hygienic workplace? All standards are mentioned in Apple's Supplier Code of Conduct (CoC) (see link, page 2-4). Source
8. Does the brand’s (company’s) CoC include at least 3 of the following workers rights: 1. a formally registered employment relationship 2. a maximum working week of 48 hours with voluntary paid overtime of 12 hours maximum 3. a sufficient living wage 4. form and join labor unions and bargain collectively; and in those situations where these rights are restricted under law, to develop parallel means? 1. Not clearly specified; 2. No, maximum working week is 60 hours (including overtime), "except in emergency cases" which can mean anything; 3. No, mentioning of minimum wage, not living wage; 4. No, freedom of association is mentioned, but nothing found about situations in which this right is restricted by law (see link, page 2-4). Source
9. Does the brand (company) have a published list of direct suppliers that have collectively contributed to more than 90% of the purchase volume? Apple published a supplier list covering 97% of procurement expenditures for materials, manufacturing, and assembly of its products worldwide, effective by February 2016. Source
10. Is the brand (company) a member of a multi stakeholder initiative (MSI), wherein independent NGO’s or labor unions are represented, that collectively aims to improve labor conditions and that carries out independent audits? Or does the brand (company) significantly purchase its supplies from factories certified by such MSI’s? In 2012, Apple became the first electronics company to join the Fair Labor Organisation, an organization of companies, universities and independent NGO's that collaborate to improve labour conditions in the supply chains. Source
11. Does the brand (company) annually report on the results of its labor conditions policy? Are more than 95% of final manufacturing stage production facilities monitored for labour conditions? Apple conducted 640 supplier audits in 2015. However, the reporting is not specific enough regarding audit results and total production volume covered (see link, page 27-33). Source
12. Are at least 25% of final manufacturing stage production facilities in high risk countries compliant to the Code of Conduct? Apple does not specify, whether at least 25% of its final manufacturing stage production facilities in high risk countries are compliant to its labour standards. Source
13. Are at least 50% of final manufacturing stage production facilities in high risk countries compliant to the Code of Conduct? See remark for labor conditions policy question 12. Source
14. Are at least 50% of final manufacturing stage production facilities in high risk countries compliant to the Code of Conduct - including a living wage? See remark for labor conditions policy question 12. Source