Environmental VP Lisa Jackson Discusses Apple's Carbon Footprint Balancing Act

Discussion in 'Mac Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, May 22, 2014.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    At Fortune's recent Brainstorm Green conference, Apple VP of Environmental Initiatives Lisa Jackson spoke about her role at Apple and the company's green initiatives, reports Philip Elmer-DeWitt of Apple 2.0. Jackson joined Apple's executive team last year and formerly served as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

    After a brief discussion of Jackson's background and Apple's green achievements, the highlight of the 16-minute interview occurs when Jackson was questioned by Patagonia's environmental chief Rick Ridgeway. Ridgeway inquired how Apple can boast about reducing its carbon footprint on individual products, when its overall footprint increases each year as the business grows. After chuckling about being "put on the spot," Jackson responded seriously:
    Apple has made great strides in the area of the environment, reducing the carbon footprint of its Mac business by 27 percent over the past eight years and powering most of its facilities almost entirely with renewable energy.

    Article Link: Environmental VP Lisa Jackson Discusses Apple's Carbon Footprint Balancing Act
  2. 2457282 Suspended

    Dec 6, 2012
    I do have to say that I have not seen any other company go after alternative/renewable energy with the kind of vigor that has been displayed by Apple. Going 100% renewable at its data centers is amazing. I think that as they continue to innovate in their various product categories they have also shown that they are using techniques and materials that are more environmentally conscious. Unfortunately, technology, by its current nature, is not a very environmentally friendly industry. I look forward to Apple continuing to innovate not just in the product, but also in how the products are made (materials, process, etc.) to improve the overall environmental footprint.
  3. tod macrumors regular

    Oct 3, 2009
    There may not be any measurable ROI on green projects but it's a selling point to me. I'd buy a Mac even if I was going to erase the HD and run Linux on it. I can't imagine I'm alone. So when the next neocon badgers Tim Cook about Apple's spending on solar panels, he should respond that it boosts their brand image among a certain group of customers. Besides being the right thing to do.
  4. currocj macrumors regular

    Jul 8, 2008
    Hey apple, if you to blow a few billion on this technology, be my guest, just don't try and raise the price of the iphone 6
  5. Maltz macrumors member

    Mar 31, 2011
    Given Apple's product's very poor repairability scores from iFixit, I wonder how the entire product lifecycle fares in the environmental footprint area? I don't know this about Apple, but often when you hear about a product's footprint, they only consider the manufacture of the product, not repairs and product lifespan. The iMac I would think would be especially bad about this, having to replace a perfectly good monitor every time you replace the machine. Compare to my PC which is now the third machine (macs and pc) using the same Apple monitor from 2006.


    Where do you think Apple's money comes from? It comes from you and me and all their other customers. Of course this will necessarily be built into the price of every product they sell.
  6. GeneralChang macrumors 65816

    Dec 2, 2013
    So, I may be in the minority here, but I don’t throw away computers. If I can continue to use them in some function in my house, even if it’s just as a jukebox in my bedroom, then I’ll keep them. If not, I’ll try to sell them or give them away before recycling them.

    And I think that Apple has been making efforts to improve the length of their usable life. For example, with a newer iMac you can set it to target monitor mode and use it as an external monitor for whatever your new computer is (assuming it’s got Thunderbolt and is a Mac). So if you’re willing to look for uses like this, I don’t see any reason why people should be throwing away iMacs on a regular basis.
  7. jdoll021 macrumors regular


    Jul 30, 2010
    Somewhere south of the Pacific NorthWest
    I don't think Ms. Jackson understands the purpose behind "make and sell less stuff." Most sustainability experts who advocate for "make and sell less stuff" aren't looking to deprive people of Apple's products (and other things). Maltz touched on what they advocate with the repairability issue. The concept behind "make and sell less stuff" is that you can achieve this by improving the repairability of your products, making them last longer, which means Apple and other companies will not need to make and sell so much stuff.

    Apple can still make money by selling "genuine Apple parts" to replace broken parts. It will also create jobs and small businesses for people who would like to, or enjoy, fixing them for folks who may not be savvy enough to do it themselves. Yes, there will always be people who want to get the latest and greatest, but they can sell their older device to one of these shops who can refurbish and resell them (similar to Gazelle). Heck, Apple could even create a used product certification program similar to many of the used car certification programs that exist today.

    Ms. Jackson, I doubt you'll see this, but if you do, innovation means finding a way to "make and sell less stuff" while making sure people are not deprived (fun fact: capitalism thrives on scarcity; just saying). It's not just about using fewer resources to make a ****** ton of products, it's also about reducing or eliminating the need to make a ****** ton of products in the first place. Than can be done by being smarter about things like usability and product life cycles.
  8. ogun7 macrumors regular


    Sep 20, 2001
    As much as I like I iFixit, I think their repairability scores are disingenuous. How did iFixit even get an audience? PEOPLE REPAIRING MACS ON THEIR OWN. How many Dells, Compaqs, Galaxy's or even my old formerly beloved Palm devices were getting repaired? I've made a bunch of money repairing even Titanium PowerBooks.

    I have friends that are Apple geniuses. All Apple products are repairable, and all have way more useful lifespans than any other products in the categories they compete in.

    Also, I enjoy the design of Apple products. I don't want them thicker, heavier or plastic to get a better repairability score on iFixit. If Greenpeace likes Apple products, they can't be that bad.
  9. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    What you think consumers do and what they actually do is not the same thing. There is a huge chain of Apple devices handed down. If you replace your 2010 iMac with a newer model, you are not going to throw a perfectly working machine away, you will find someone who uses it. Same with iPhones and iPads. And what do you do if the screen on a MacBook breaks and it is too expensive to repair? Would you throw it away? In that case, you are stupid. Because all you do is keep the lid closed, plug in a monitor, mouse and keyboard, and you have a fine desktop computer.

    iFixit is a company making money from repairs. Sure, they give Apple low scores. That's because _iFixit_ can't repair phones and iPads easily. Apple can. It's no problem for Apple to take these things apart and replace batteries, screens and so on.

    So if you have a broken iMac with a perfect screen, and a MacBook with a broken screen, one cable combines them into a fine computer!
  10. cube macrumors G5

    May 10, 2004
    Hand down computers get upgraded before and after being given away.

    The problem with Apple is poor upgradeability and serviceability, not repairability or recyclability.
  11. 4jasontv macrumors 6502a

    Jul 31, 2011
    You could offer to buy back my power mac MDD. That alone should cut 5%.
  12. tgara macrumors 6502a


    Jul 17, 2012
    Somewhere in the Delta Quadrant
    That's a good point. With less upgradeability and serviceability, wouldn't the logical outcome be more computer waste?
  13. JoEw macrumors 65816


    Nov 29, 2009
    I think macs last much longer than their PC counterparts, that in itself is environmentally friendly.

    I would love to see Apple go full blast and make recycling the "norm". Go to your apple store get money credit for your mac go get your new one repeat in 5 years or so.

    My iMac is about 5 years and still faster than ever graphics card still decent for games like Civ or Sims. Had I had a PC I am pretty sure I would have gone through a couple by now..
  14. GeneralChang macrumors 65816

    Dec 2, 2013
    The usable life-span of a Mac is, at least in my experience, far greater than most PCs. I still have a G3 iMac in my house for the plethora of old educational games, and it sees pretty regular use even a decade after it was manufactured. It’s running OS 9.2 and doesn’t give the impression of dying anytime soon.

    I had a PC of about the same age. It sure was a lot easier to upgrade, adding USB 2 to it was a cinch, bigger hard drive, more RAM, the works. Then the motherboard exploded, and it went to the recyclers.

    One of them is adding waste, the other is not, and upgradeability and serviceability didn’t have anything to do with it. This is probably a limited example case, but I’ll bet that if you really looked into the numbers, Macs do not get replaced more often. They probably also have a much higher rate of being resold versus recycled than PCs do.
  15. octothorpe8 macrumors 6502

    Feb 27, 2014
    Well this is the crux of the problem isn't it? The world's economy is predicated, like a pyramid scheme, on perpetual growth: more products, more activity, more of everything. If an economy isn't getting larger, it is judged to be "failing".

    That's all fueled by carbon, top to bottom, from the extraction and shaping of raw materials to transport of the finished products, to the feeding, housing and transportation of the people who buy and consume.

    No surprise, we're heading toward a f------ cliff. A pattern of human activity based on always making MORE is not sustainable, neither in the buzzword sense of "green" or in the real, scary sense of "it can't keep happening without us making the earth into something that won't sustain human life on this scale."

    Oh, and if you're still somehow a climate change denier, let's make this perfectly clear: you are an idiot.
  16. wikiverse macrumors 6502a

    Sep 13, 2012
    This isn't so true. Apple will replace a broken MPBr or MBA with an entirely new one in most cases because it is cheaper than trying to repair it. This is also true for iPads and iPhones.

    If you read the other article on MR today it says that apple are trying to use liquid metal to create 'tamper proof screws'. Why would they need to do that if not to reduce repairability so they can move more 'consumable' products?


    Apple actually has a terrible environmental footprint. The renewables is good, but it is really window dressing.

    Aluminium is one of the most energy intensive and carbon emitting materials you can create. Apple uses 0% recycled metals and glass. And glass, aluminium and plastic are not easily recyclable when the parts are glued together.

    Carbon neutrality is just one tiny part. You can be carbon neutral and still create and environmental disaster.

    All tech companies are doing a really terrible job of environmentally friendly manufacturing. But apple replacing entire products with new ones because of one faulty part is crazy.
  17. star-affinity macrumors 6502a


    Nov 14, 2007
    Depends on what you buy. Sure there are a lot of cheap PC's out there, but you can buy/build one with good quality. I have one that I built myself and it is too five years old now. Works very well still (and it can run OS X as a ”Hackintosh”).
  18. JAT macrumors 603

    Dec 31, 2001
    Mpls, MN
    Everyone who says this never considers the other side. See, "more" implies two sides. What about the guy who replaces a graphics card? Where does the old one go? Since some seem to think everyone that owns a Mac simply throws it on his neighbor's lawn when getting a new one, isn't that what Mr. Upgrades Twice A Year does, too?


    So? They do recycle them, so why does it matter to you if it's easy or not? What a stupid argument.
  19. octothorpe8 macrumors 6502

    Feb 27, 2014
    Just because they give you a new (or more likely, refurbished) iPhone or Mac on the spot doesn't mean they're throwing your broken one entirely in the trash. Where do you think refurbished units come from in the first place? They obviously use them, or perfectly usable parts from them, to put refurbished units together.
  20. gnasher729, May 23, 2014
    Last edited: May 23, 2014

    gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    They give you a new computer, while taking the old one. Which will be repaired and turned into a "refurbished" computer, if possible, or the working parts will be extracted, to fix other computers. This is also true for iPads and iPhones.

    Tamper proof screws are to prevent idiots from opening and damaging devices, who shouldn't open them. That leaves iFixit in a spot, but for every tamper proof screw there is a tool that opens it.

    Aluminium is a metal. It takes tons of elecricity to extract it from bauxite, but once it's aluminium, there is nothing in the world easier to recycle. The glue is no problem if, like Apple, you use recycling companies who know what they are doing and actually have the right tools. A bit of heat in the right places gets rid of glue quite easily.
  21. JAT macrumors 603

    Dec 31, 2001
    Mpls, MN
    No kidding. Besides, I'll bet I know where a lot of recycled aluminum went.
  22. anovelli macrumors newbie

    Jul 9, 2010
    As others have pointed out, it seems you have a partial grasp of both Apple practice and environmental concerns. Technology of this sort is almost unimaginably difficult to manage carbon footprints for. Look to leaders in the field like Interface carpet. They make one, rather simple range of products. There might be a dozen components, and while a large volume business, it took a visionary many years to transition to the model of cradle-to-cradle resource management a reality.

    An iPhone, which is only useful BECAUSE of its complexity, has hundreds of parts and processes to combine and assemble these parts, often sourced from all over the world. Simpler products have been made - but do not create revenue at the scale necessary to build multi-megawatt solar arrays and other renewable projects. The responsibility of a company that operates at such scale is to both manage its requisite impacts as carefully as possible, and to reinvest in technologies that shift markets and make things like solar more available for everyone.

    Apple is a leader on both sides of this equation, not only building the leading tech in terms of quality, functionality and accessibility, but investing in supply chains, and managing impacts in ways ever more impressive. It is because of companies like Apple doing large-scale renewable projects that tech like solar has dropped from over $4/watt to under a buck in the last several years. That's good for everyone, and demonstrates a pay-it-forward philosophy almost completely absent in this or any industry.

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