Apple's Carbon Footprint

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by MartyCan, Dec 8, 2016.

  1. MartyCan macrumors 65816

    MartyCan

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    #1
    I searched first and did not come up with a specific thread about this so sorry if this is a duplication.

    I'm sitting at home eagerly awaiting delivery updates on my new TB MPB 15" and I'm doing what we MR members do trying to get as much information as possible to kill the time. So I'm looking on Flightaware for UPS flights out of China and I was watching UPS 81 today from Shanghai to Anchorage. Then I notice some data that flight aware provides.

    This single 747 flight used over 117,000 pounds of fuel. Don't know why I never considered this before. Plus this is not the only cargo flight between these two points today. There are probably a dozen!

    Even then that is only half the trip this computer will eventually fly. That was 7 hours and change. Then Anchorage to Louisville is another 5+ hours and then a few more from Louisville up to Canada.

    Tim Cook likes to tout how much Apple does to reduce their carbon footprint and for certain they are doing a lot of things that are positive. But what about flying all their products in fuel-sucking airplanes when they could build ahead and put them in shipping containers and send them across the Ocean. Maybe Apple has done the math and maybe it really is better but I find it astounding that this is a "green" method of transporting goods around the globe. Does anyone know if Apple figures that in when they calculate their carbon footprint? They may well, but could they do more to reduce it further by using more fuel-efficient shipping methods?

    Anyway the sheer numbers on the fuel astounded me. It's not like I never bought Apple products and waited for them to get here as fast as they could get them here. It's not like I won't continue to do so but it was a bit of an eye opener for me.
     
  2. chown33 macrumors 604

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    #2
    Although the gross numbers are interesting, I'm curious what the per unit numbers break down to. That is, what's the amortized fuel consumption for one tbMBP 15". For simplicity, it's probably easiest to assume one 747 whose cargo containers holding nothing but identical units of the same model.

    I'm not sure how to go about getting the base numbers to work from, but it might be worth starting with the capacity of 747 cargo containers, and the number of containers a single aircraft can hold. After that, you can estimate upper and lower limits for the number of units you can pack in one container, work out the weight, see if it fits takeoff and landing limits for the aircraft, etc.

    Yeah, there's some research and some math involved, but it'd still be interesting to look at.
     
  3. MartyCan thread starter macrumors 65816

    MartyCan

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    #3
    Yes I did consider that and those flights probably have iPhones and many other devices on them too but the real number is the unit versus unit number for flying versus surface transport. A single container ship of could carry the same number of products as hundreds of these flights and then there would be some additional surface transport by rail and truck. Seems to me it can't possibly add up to burning as much fossil fuel as an aircraft does. I can't say I have the time personally to really dig into the numbers but maybe some other members here have a little more insight.

    Aircraft are fast but they are far from fuel efficient versus other modes.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 8, 2016 ---
    So I did find an article that says the largest container ships use 760,000 lbs of fuel per day. But it also carries 15,200 shipping containers. It did not say if these were 20 or 40 foot containers. I would assume the smaller.

    Wikipedia says that the 747 freighters are configured to carry standard shipping containers 2 high and 2 wide. So if these are correct a single container ship can carry the same load as 3,800 Boeing 747's. Those aircraft would use a staggering 889,200,000 lbs of fuel to move goods across the ocean (and I assumed that Alaska was really only the halfway point of the journey).

    Given that number a container ship could sail for 1,170 days on the same amount of fuel by weight. It probably takes only between 21-28 days to sail from China to any west coast port in North America.

    I'm not surprised really. It's a given that aircraft are fuel hogs. You are working against a lot of physics to keep all of that weight in the air.

    But I won't fool myself. Apple is not going to build enough product months ahead of a launch so they can ship it by a greener method. It's the competitive nature of their business to deliver the "latest, greatest" as quick as possible and 6y weeks in transit isn't going to cut it unless all their competitors did the same.

    Though you'd thing there would be some obvious cost savings besides the greener story to tell
     
  4. chown33 macrumors 604

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    #4
    My interest was in absolute terms. For example, if the transport fuel cost was about 1 fl. oz per MacBook, then that's remarkably low in the overall scheme of products I use vs. their fuel cost. Even if it was a half gallon, well, that's not many miles in my car, so in terms of my personal annual carbon footprint, it's still inconsequential.

    Might it be lower in a shipping container on a ship? Yeah, but still in terms of a personal carbon footprint, how significant is it?

    Some programming work I did a while ago told me that aircraft have some of the best efficiency per passenger mile of any transportation. I'll see if I can find the numbers for it, as right now I just have the recollection, rather than details.

    Meanwhile, there's this:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_economy_in_aircraft

    It has an interesting graph on efficiency vs. flight distance.


    Thanks for the numbers on the container ship and the 747 shipping containers.
     
  5. MartyCan thread starter macrumors 65816

    MartyCan

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    #5
    For our own "personal" carbon footprint it is perhaps a very small number but Apple (and Samsung, et al) sell millions and millions of those devices and in aggregate the numbers do become significant.
     
  6. A.Goldberg, Dec 8, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2016

    A.Goldberg macrumors 68000

    A.Goldberg

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    #6
    I imagine this is pretty much par for the course for any company manufacturing in China. While I'm sure a lot of products must be flown for reasons of timeliness and meeting demand, I would imagine once the supply and demand levels out they'd resort to cheaper shipping options, such as boats. Whatever the cost of shipping these goods evidently must be worth it considering Asia's cheaper manufacturing prices.

    Another thing worth noting is that when the original white MacBook came put, Apple substantially reduced the packaging size of their products. I remember my 12" PowerBook G4's packaging being about 3x larger than the current 13" MacBook Pro packagaing. iPods once came in those rather large square boxes, now iPods (and iPhones) are distributed in boxes not much larger than the products themselves. You'll notice the iMac boxes are triangular/half-rectangles, meaning they can pack them tighter. Less bulky packaging means obviously more products per unit space, and less transport needed.

    This is one thing other manufactures have only recently realized, or execute rather poorly. Apple obviously puts a lot of effort into their packaging not only for aesthetics and marketing, but also environmental reasons.

    upload_2016-12-9_2-35-27.png upload_2016-12-9_2-35-41.png
    upload_2016-12-9_2-38-4.png upload_2016-12-9_2-41-25.png
     
  7. Gav2k macrumors G3

    Gav2k

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    #7
    140000kg in cargo is a huge amount. That's approx 46500 MacBooks in weight (yes that wouldn't fit but the plane won't be carrying just Macbook's.

    8900 mile range on 238610 ltrs of fuel.
    26.8 ltrs per mile.

    Cost vs time its actually fairly 'green'
     
  8. MartyCan thread starter macrumors 65816

    MartyCan

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  9. DearthnVader macrumors 6502

    DearthnVader

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    #10
    Container ships have a huge carbon footprint, because the fuel they use is the worst polluting fuel of all. Bunker Fuel, is basically what is left over from the gas and oil refining process. It is a very heavy fuel oil.
     
  10. MartyCan thread starter macrumors 65816

    MartyCan

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    #11
    Did you read the link above?

    Also, for the same quantity of fuel a container ship can move the equivalent cargo of 3,800 aircraft. The footprint per unit is considerably smaller.
     
  11. DearthnVader macrumors 6502

    DearthnVader

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    #12
    From the link:
    Jet aircraft fuel is a highly refined fuel, it's sulfur content is between 400-800 PPM. Whereas bunker fuel is 50,000 ppm.
     
  12. MartyCan thread starter macrumors 65816

    MartyCan

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    #13
    OK, butdo the math on how much cargo a single ship can carry versus yhe number of flights it would take to move the same.
     
  13. DearthnVader macrumors 6502

    DearthnVader

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    #14
    Would someone still be buying the product, it it took 6 weeks to get it?

    What are the economic and environmental impacts of large innovatory that doesn't sell. Lean innovatory, manufacturing, and just on-time shipping are used for reasons.
     
  14. cube macrumors G5

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    #15
    Apple can reduce its margins to allow for larger inventories.
     
  15. DearthnVader macrumors 6502

    DearthnVader

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    #16
    Apple's prime concern is it's fiduciary responsibility to it's shareholders, it will do what is most profitable.

    If government wants to change that, to make it illegal to use jet aircraft that have a high carbon footprint, for just on-time shipping. Then it is incumbent on the government to do so, but I doubt we'll see Apple act to put itself at a competitive disadvantage in the marketplace.
     
  16. cube macrumors G5

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    #17
    And it can also make less profit if people refuse to buy its products if people see Apple as a greedy polluter.
     
  17. DearthnVader macrumors 6502

    DearthnVader

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    #18
    True, but good luck with that. Apple has a sophisticated marketing apparatus, and is not always known for its response to customer demands.

    I'd rather see corporations doing what is right, because it is right, rather than government intervening with new laws, taxes, and regulations, but I just don't think many companies want to be the first to jump off the fiscal cliff of total carbon reduction, because they are afraid their competitors won't fallow them, and they will lose market share.
     
  18. cube macrumors G5

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    #19
    Making phones in Mexico instead of China for USA (like BlackBerry) could be more carbon-friendly.

    Nokia had its own factories all over the world (which Microsoft sold).
     
  19. DearthnVader macrumors 6502

    DearthnVader

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    #20
    Does Apple sell most of it's phones in the Americas?

    Doesn't Apple have most of it's products manufactured in China, because that's a central location in the supply chain?
     
  20. cube, Dec 10, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2016

    cube macrumors G5

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    #21
    I don't know. I think Nokia maybe made some of their models in several places. Finland did build some high end models.

    I think BlackBerry with their current low sales assigns a model to one place. My Passport (which I guess would go mostly to North America) was made in Mexico. The low cost Z3 was made in Indonesia (an important BlackBerry market).

    I bought 2 Q5 as gifts. The red one was made in Taiwan, the pink one in Mexico.
     
  21. DearthnVader macrumors 6502

    DearthnVader

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    #22
    You do relies that Nokia and Blackberry aren't really models of success?
     
  22. chown33 macrumors 604

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    #23
    Replace the word "corporations" with "people", and you've pretty much got the reason for establishing every nation and government ever.

    Here's an excerpt from a well known written declaration explaining why a new government ought to be established:

    That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.​
     
  23. cube macrumors G5

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    #24
    Nokia was brought down from inside, Blackberry was apparently mismanaged. It has nothing to do with how they built their phones.
     
  24. DearthnVader macrumors 6502

    DearthnVader

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    #25
    You
    You do relies that the founding fathers didn't like corporations, because they have either souls to damn, nor bodies to kick.
     

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