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Apple Sustainability Report: GHGs up 34%, Down Per Dollar

Apple’s lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions rose 34 percent last year – a fact omitted by the company’s recently updated environmental report. But sales far outpaced emissions, rising 45 percent from $108.2 billion in 2011 to $156.5 billion in 2012.

The report, which is only available as a website, with separate PDF-based reports on facilities and individual product footprints, lacks many of the year-on-year comparisons common to corporate sustainability reports. It says the company’s greenhouse gas emissions per dollar of revenue has fallen 21.5 percent since 2008, but doesn’t show how this metric has changed since 2011.

The report does say that in 2012, Apple was responsible for 30.9 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, including GHGs from production, transport, product use and product recycling, as well as from Apple facilities and employee travel. The company doesn’t present total emissions for 2011, and Apple’s 2011 environmental report is no longer publicly available – whenever Apple publishes a new report, it simply replaces the information on its environmental reporting webpage.

A company spokesperson, however, told Environmental Leader that emissions in 2011 came to 23.1 million metric tons. This means lifecycle emissions rose by 34 percent over FY 2012. The spokesman said GHGs are up because Apple is selling significantly more products.

According to the environmental report, the majority of the company’s carbon footprint – 61 percent – comes from manufacturing. Another 30 percent comes from product use, 5 percent from transportation, 2 percent from facilities (including data centers) and 2 percent from recycling.

Facilities: GHGs and energy

A separate 2012 facilities report, published alongside the environmental website, shows that scope 1 and 2 emissions from the company’s facilities rose from 216,628 to 271,746 metric tons over FY 2012.

Facility electricity use increased from 493 million to 608 million kWh, staying roughly steady at corporate offices but rising substantially at data centers and retail stores. Both electricity and natural gas use fell on a per-employee basis.

Last year the company achieved 100 percent renewable energy use at its corporate facilities in Austin, Elk Grove, Cork and Munich, and at many sites in Australia, as well as at the Infinite Loop campus in Cupertino (where it last year installed a biogas-powered fuel cell and rooftop PV system) and data centers in Newark, Maiden and Prineville. Apple says it is on track to power its facilities entirely with renewable energy.

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