Apple says that it has almost doubled the number of suppliers that have committed to run their Apple production on 100 per cent clean energy, which will enable it to exceed its goal of using four gigawatts of renewable energy in its supply chain by 2020.
Last year the company announced that all its own facilities were powered by renewables. The problem is that some 74 per cent of its carbon footprint comes from its manufacturing, so getting its supply chain partners to move to renewables is critical to improving its total carbon footprint.
But achieving this does not come cheap. Apple has allocated some $2.5 million in green bonds, contributing to 40 environmental initiatives around the world. It says that by January 2019 some 66 per cent of the renewable energy the company uses comes from such endeavours.
Green bonds are not without their critics – environmentalists have argued that the money raised does not necessarily get used for environmental purposes. There have been allegations that they are simply being used to support token projects and distract attention from environmental irresponsibility and destruction.
Of course, there is no suggestion that this is what Apple is doing, but it highlights the importance of managing initiatives right back along the supply chain to ensure that the goals are met.
Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environmental, policy and social initiatives, says: “We’ve made it a priority to hold our suppliers accountable to the same environmental standards we observe and hope that our collaboration will show others what is possible. While we are proud of our announcement today, we won’t stop driving change within our industry to support the clean energy transition happening globally.”
To drive that change, Apple has been expanding its supplier education and support initiatives, including through its clean energy portal, an online platform to help suppliers identify renewable energy sources globally.
Sustainability is now a key issue for board rooms around the world. And, like Apple, global corporations are finding that most of their environmental impact comes from the supply chain.
Companies have spent years learning to manage extended supply chains – and the lessons learnt could prove invaluable in reducing carbon footprints globally.