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Old Jan 28, 2007, 12:22 PM   #1
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Apple Music Store Environmental Impact

Some interesting facts and figures about the Environmental Impact of the Apple iTunes Store...

When people debate the pros and cons of the Apple iTunes Store (or any online music store for that matter,) they usually focus their conversation on the quality of the music (bit rate) or the digital rights management (DRM) associated with the music. To me though, there has always been another important point to consider; the environment.

Sooner or later, all Music CD's and the Jewel Cases they are packaged in will end up in a landfill somewhere. CD's are mostly manufactured from Aluminum and Polycarbonate along with Lacquer, Dyes, and other materials such as water, glass, and nickel. Most of these materials must also be processed before manufacturers can use them to make CD's. As an example, to make plastic, crude oil from the ground is combined with natural gas and chemicals in a processing plant. In addition to manufacturing, there are transportation costs (shipping CD's in trucks to the store) as well as packaging costs (the jewel cases, shrink wrap, etc.) to consider as well.

When I buy a Music CD these days, I consider the CD itself to be no more than part of the packaging. I'll use it once to load the songs into my computer and then the CD will sit on the shelf; never to be touched again. Seems like a bit of a waste to me...

That's why I have embraced the Apple iTunes Store. To date, I have purchased over 1,500 songs. The only reason I buy a Music CD these days is if there is a particular song I want that is just not available on the iTunes Store. In my mind, every time someone buys a song or an album via the Apple iTunes Store, they are contributing in a very small way to reducing the amount of garbage that will one day be added to a landfill somewhere. That's one fewer physical CD that needs to be manufactured, packaged, shipped, sold, and ultimately discarded.

I thought it would be interesting to see what the aggregate environmental impact of the Apple iTunes Store has been to date. For my numbers, I have assumed that there is an average of 12 songs per CD. I have ignored CD singles, Audiobooks, etc. These are just some rough numbers but they make a good point...

In early January, Steve Jobs announced that Apple had sold over 2,000,000,000 songs via the iTunes Store. That's about 166,000,000 CD's. Stacked one on top of each other, this pile of CD's (in their jewel cases) would reach almost 1050 miles high. If you tipped over this pile, it would extend more than 1/3rd of the way from New York to LA. If you laid the CD's down on the ground, they would cover 4.33 billion square inches which is about 640 acres of CD's. That's a lot of landfill...

Steve Jobs also announced that Apple is currently selling 5,000,000 songs per day. This is about 416,000 CD's per day. By buying your music from the Apple Store, you are helping to prevent a stack of CD's 2.6 miles high from having to be manufactured PER DAY.

Even my paltry 1500 songs have saved the landfills of the world from another 4 foot high stack of CD's.

Lets look at this another way. A CD along with a slim jewel case and 1-2 pages of liner weighs about 60 grams. That's about .13224 lbs. If a standard tractor trailer can move 80,000 lbs of product (or about 605,000 CD's) the Apple iTunes Store has saved about 275 tractor trailers worth of CD's from being manufactured and shipped and is adding to that by about 5 tractor trailers worth per week.

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Old Jan 28, 2007, 12:40 PM   #2
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cool read... i am studying things exactly like this in my environmental class
me +  = eternal happiness
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Old Jan 28, 2007, 01:10 PM   #3
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Very interesting figures.

Don't hear this lot mention anything about Apple having a positive impact on the environment
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Old Jan 28, 2007, 03:28 PM   #4
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Anyone have any figures on how much energy it takes to make a CD? I was looking to add some figures around this but couldn't find any reliable info...
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