Image via Apple screengrab
Yesterday, Apple updated more information about the environmental impacts of its products on its website, bringing a little more transparency to consumers. That added information includes life cycle analysis of greenhouse gas emissions for its products. Yesterday we were just noting how carbon footprint measurements can be sticky business because it all depends on how far down the supply chain, how broad across the business operations, and how far into future impact a business decides to measure. Apple's information, however, is relatively impressive. The environmental information on the website includes the lifecycle impact of their products, the impact of the product itself in terms of power usage, and additional information on Apple's environmental efforts. As is to be expected, the information is not incredibly in depth - we were hoping for something interactive where users could explore the exact carbon impact data of each particular product - but it is inclusive. See...relatively impressive.
For the lifecycle analysis, Apple states:
Our life cycle analysis accounts for all emissions associated with our products. That includes raw material extraction, manufacturing, packaging, transportation, a three- or four-year period of use,* and recycling. In the course of this analysis, we determined that less than 5 percent of our emissions come from our worldwide facilities. In other words, more than 95 percent of Apple's total greenhouse gas emissions come from the products we make.
Consumers can see the breakdown of what percentage of the carbon footprint the various parts of a product's life comprise - so for instance, Apple notes that the use of its products by consumers accounts for 53% of its footprint.
Consumers can also get environmental impact reports for each of the currently shipping Apple products, so if you're buying a new MacBook Pro, you can find out about its GHGs, materials efficiency, energy efficiency and so on.
Of course, you're still trusting that Apple is accurately accounting for everything, which is a very big piece of trust, but the fact that they're outlining this in an easily accessible way is a positive move. Consumers need increased transparency about the environmental impact of products they consume, and easy access to the information so they can make knowledgeable decisions. Apple isn't perfect, but its move is in that direction.
PS - We love how Apple managed to get a dig in at Dell, showing their recycling rate for last year was their best rate ever of 41.9% of its products...remarking that that's according to Dell's measurement standards. Hilariously passive aggressive chin nod to see if Dell can knock their efforts. The measurement standard is entirely unrealistic ("...assumes a seven-year product lifetime. The weight of the materials we recycle each year is compared to the total weight of the products Apple sold seven years earlier.") but, well, that's electronics manufacturers for you. Raise your hand if you have a 7-year-old Mac product, let alone one that you still use on a regular basis. Yeah...they need to shorten that lifespan and make their measurements more accurate.
More on Apple's Environmental Impact
Apple's Unfixable Gadgets: That's Not Green
New Macbook Pro: What's the Eco-Impact of Building a MacBook from a Single Piece of Aluminum?
New Battery Technology Improves MacBook Pro Battery Life by 60%