Why Apple is placing such a big emphasis on going green

“Like most companies, Apple cares about the products its consumers are using to ensure they return for more. The tech giant is also focusing on its environmental footprint, which in turn, rewards shareholders,” Chris Ciaccia reports for TheStreet. “That’s part of what’s behind Apple’s recently announced power deal with First Solar according to Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environmental initiatives. ‘There’s a huge economic benefit because we’re going to potentially save hundreds of millions of dollars over the life of the deal,’ she said.”

“A former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Jackson has been working to further Apple’s initiatives to not only produce great products, but keep pushing the company’s goal to take care of the planet,” Ciaccia reports. “‘What’s been fun and sort of a great next step career wise is working with innovative folks who don’t recognize any boundaries in the solutions,’ Jackson noted. ‘We ask ourselves all the time how to make things better and you can see it in not only our products, but in the environment, as well.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As Kermit says, “It’s not easy being green,” but, it can be profitable in more ways than one.

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15 Comments

  1. This is a great endeavor, but once again you often get these ridiculous statements:

    “A former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Jackson has been working to further Apple’s initiatives to not only produce great products, but keep pushing the company’s goal to take care of the planet.”

    A company’s goal of taking care of the planet? Excuse me the planet can take care of itself very well thank you and has been doing so for a lot longer than Apple has been around.

    It would be a much more appropriate goal to reduce the population of humans on the planet (this can be done without removing any existing humans of course). There are way too many of them, not that it’s bothering the planet overall but the density factor it’s certainly causing issues for human beings.

    Environmental responsibility is a great direction for Apple to go in, after all ecology and economy all have a common word of origin.

    1. I couldn’t disagree more. The planet is not taking care of itself. Have you any idea of the environment in China? People / Companies have seemingly only what’s been required of them to protect the environment, not what they should be doing.

      This is the great differential and new path Apple is plowing. Apple is asking what should they be doing to improve the working conditions it’s contractors provide, what should it be doing to better protect the environment from it’s activities. Apple has the ability to define a new model for capitalism, and I for one hope they are successful.

      1. Thanks for your post Chaz. I can see your point, but I still think that the ecosystems of the planet are fine. Yes there are some devastating ecological disasters but life is going on.

        In terms of protecting the environment, well humans are the only organism on the planet that produces materials toxic not only to themselves but to all other forms of life and as such do have a negative impact on life, but life is incredibly adapted and resilient.

        One way or another Apple is taking steps to change the negative impact of humans on planetary life, hopefully others will follow.

        Life on the planet is doing well, but then again, most of the species that have existed on the planet are now extinct. It’s the human species that needs to learn to take care of itself and operate harmoniously with nature as they are part of it. The cacophony of human technology does affect life but the ones that are really threatened are humans themselves. The environment in China no doubt is not the best for humans, but other living creatures will be doing quite well.

        Thanks for your post, this certainly is a topic worthy of dialogue and appropriate action.

        1. RW and Chaz both have good points, viewed from different scales in time. First, all the earths systems are encompassed within the earths ecosystem, including the human economic system. The human socioeconomic systems are meaningless outside of the ecological systems they are embedded within. The food, water, energy, resources, etc. that we humans depend on are all derived from the earths ecological systems. Economics is a subset of ecology. Ecological balance is far more “important” than economic balance, and that is a concept that is little understood by most people, and missing from virtually all business models.

          From a long term and Macro perspective the Earth can and will take care of herself and will recover from the ecological disaster that humans are presently perpetrating as evidenced by the human caused mass extinction of other species that she is currently being subjected to. That recovery will very very likely be after humans have done so much damage to shorter term ecological balance that we eliminate ourselves by creating an environment that can not support our own species.

          Some people at Apple have some understanding of these issues and are working to do the right thing. Wall Street operates in complete blindness to these issues. Even where some on Wall Street, and in the world’s governments may be able to see and understand these issues at some level, returns on short term investments, and politics, require that they make the wrong choices.

          In my opinion, our long term survival depends on business and customers, specifically small business, and the very unusual large business like Apple recognizing that our long term investments and sustainable survival depend heavily on our contribution to ecological balances. Right now humans take far more from ecological systems than we give back. Our economic systems are based on and embedded in a taker mentality. Our economic goals are focused on taking and accumulating wealth, not on the healthy circulation of resources that happen in a healthy ecosystem and a healthy economy. A real “Free Market Economy” would work within ecosystems where every living thing seeks to survive and thrive within the boundaries of its environment, not like our human system where we imagine ourselves to be somehow above and beyond the earths ecological systems. If we depend on Washington, on politics, on Wall Street, on religion, on the wealthy 0.01%ers, or any other systems that were set up to divide and isolate human systems from the worlds greater ecological systems, then we are lost.

          1. What a wonderful post ET, thank you so much for taking the time to write it. Your point about “ll the earths systems are encompassed within the earths ecosystem, including the human economic system.” is so important conceptually and I’ve had many a discussion just on that point. In fact the language that we use is slanted towards the idea of man being separate from nature.

            One example, the word artificial in my opinion is a subset of natural. Humans are natural and what they create is natural. Artificial does have a place but it’s on the same level as a beaver dam or an ant hill, a construct.

            Another one that I find a hoot are the “chemical free” or “all natural ingredients”. I remember really pissing off an organic farmer that was advertising “chemical free” produce and I asked him how he was able to grow such great produce without water. When he pointed out that water was used, I pointed out that water was a chemical, and that his produce wasn’t chemical free. Oh boy did he get irate and tossed out the “you know what I mean.” comeback and I retorted that if he knew what he meant he would have used appropriate terms like “organic” (which is iffy) or pesticide free (which to me would have been appropriate. I told him that I was going to buy from another producer at the market specifically for his misrepresentation.

            Humans are integrally woven into nature, not separate from it. Thanks for making your point it’s an important one that people just don’t seem to be aware of.

    2. I couldn’t agree more. Lisa Jackson gained her experience working for the Federal Government – where producing nothing useful while spending unlimited amounts of money is considered a virtue. She is the antithesis of what is best about Apple.

      1. I always love the insights that people can offer here, yours is a very nice one, thanks for sharing it. Yes government waste, makes me shudder.

        I have mentioned several times that I think that overpopulation of the human species is one of the biggest modern day challenges, but closely associated with that is bureaucracy, it has become a plight upon humanity and it doesn’t need to be.

    3. Do you think companies should be ethical?

      1. Keep their contracts
      2. Don’t coerce employees or customers
      2. Not commit fraud
      4. Don’t steal
      5. Don’t make short term profits by destroying long term value

      The last one is why all companies should “Take care of the planet”. It is not altruism, it is just being economically ethical.

      When external damage to the environment is accounted for in the books, like bank accounts, real estate or any other valuable asset, the result is the environment gets managed responsibly.

      It is when damage is kept off the the books, such as the long term damage caused by overuse or by pollution, that companies are able to make short term profits for themselves as a result of causing long term value loss to others.

      If all environmental harms were accounted for in simple economic terms, every company would find new ways to be renewable and green, just as every company finds new ways to hire better people, new ways to give better service, etc. Doing the right thing would be to their economic benefit.

      The asset value of the land Apple is managing will only increase over time as pristine environments continue to become less common.

      1. Nice post nevermark. Yes I do think that companies should be ethical, and the points you make are spot on.

        The last one is tricky for some to grasp and it is of course a question of perspective. For a long time the human population was relatively low in its population and environmental impact. There was/is a big jump in population growth around the industrial revolution and of course that is when the impact started to be felt through pollution and over harvesting or resources.

        Economy and ecology are closely related in concept but certainly not in practice, and that has in part been a conceptual challenge. There was this idea for a while that “dilution is the solution to pollution” but that only works when you are adding minimal amounts of pollutants to the environment and when those pollutants can be broken down. Right now the amount of pollutants to the atmosphere is growing to the point where it does have great impact, the ozone hole is a good example of what can happen as a result of high levels of pollutants.

        I know some companies are right on the ball when it comes to minimizing negative environmental impact. Strangely enough I don’t see much when it comes to maximizing positive environmental impact, but certainly planting trees, reclaiming non productive land is a good step in the right direction.

        I could probably say more but for now well I’ll just give you the thumbs up once again for the fine points you brought up.

      2. Am in agreement, nevermarkAm in agreement, nevermark.

        This holistic-type of thinking is going to have to be brought into the college business schools curiculum, and incorporated/embraced by some of the various “schools of thought.”

        What you have described is a COMPLETE business model — from inception to retirement — perhaps decades later, and the costs of such.

        Particularly in the past, we allowed corporate America to get away with accounting only for the cost-to-market — the “unaccounted” post-market clean-up costs were borne by the taxpayer via the EPA-sponsored Superfund program — see http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/ for further info.

        Clearly, the real costs should include the entire life-cycle of a product line — to include the very real costs of disposing of the packaging used to ship/contain that product.

        Good post — on point!

        Niffy

  2. I wouldn’t say Apple are like other companies at all in terms of wanting them to come back for more. In my experience other companies couldn’t give a shit. They want you to pay your money and then you can just fsck off. They care not one iota about the quality of your experience and your perception of them as long as they get your money there and then to show on their sales figures. It’s why in the UK we get insurance companies giving cashback and toys for taking out a policy, typically with a value that almost wipes out what they might make that year but they do it because it shows as a sale. Forget the fact that they’ve made themselves disposable and that customers will just go somewhere else for the same new customer benefit the following year. Apple of course wants to get new customers, but I wager they love the fact that that they have customers who they know will essentially spend money year on year that they don’t have to entice to waste resources on gaining because they’ve already done it by providing the product that keeps us with them.

  3. This is SO right for Apple in so many ways, and makes so much financial sense. Not to mention just being the “right” thing to do.

    Just another way that Apple is leading.

  4. Which company has the best chance of being successful in 100 years?

    Microsoft? Google? Apple?

    The answer to that question lies in this question. Which company is focused on doing what is right, making great products in a culture that is invested in doing what is right?

  5. Remember when they used to say that Apple products were more expensive than others, yet when the TCO analysis was fairly conducted, Apple products came out as a great bargain.

    Same with Apples green policy. It is a good investment that will pay off long term. They are fireproofing themselves against future cost increases from higher energy prices and paper prices.

    Apple plays from a pretty subtle playbook.

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