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It’s not easy being green: Apple vs. Samsung

Lucie Spraggs's picture

Which is the real green machine?
 

When you compare the technology of Apple and Samsung, there’s often just a hairs-breadth between them. Really it just comes down to personal preference, you’re either steadfast Samsung or you’re a fruit fan.

However, when it comes to making an environmental choice, there is only one winner: Apple.

According to a Greenpeace report, Samsung are amongst the wort offenders when it comes down to environmental impact. Samsung is really bad for renewable energy policies. The company used more than 16,000 GWh of energy in 2016, of which one percent came from renewables. As well, due to its position as the world’s largest manufacturer of smartphones and supplier of key components to many other brands, it isn’t tackling its climate change responsibility by not committing to 100 percent renewable energy for its operations.

The same Greenpeace report put Apple second in the list of the most sustainable tech companies, only behind Fairphone (a company whose sole mission is sustainable phone manufacture).

Greenpeace: how environmental are the big tech firms
 

See full Greenpeace report here

So what are Apple doing differently?

In Apple’s 2019 ‘Environmental Responsibility Report’ SVP Lisa Jack shared an opening statement about how Apple approaches environmental goals:

At Apple, it’s simple. We apply the same level of innovation that goes into everything we create, design, power and manufacture to making things better for people and the planet. And we make it simple for customers and partners who share our passion to join us in this work. In a time where the threats facing our planet are too great to ignore, we are demonstrating that businesses must play a vital role. We are proud to do the hard work, to make the breakthroughs, and tirelessly search for ways to ensure the better future for our planet that we all deserve.
 

See Apple’s full report here 

The big points that Apple drew attention to were:

  • 100% of Apple’s global facilities are powered by 100% renewable energy
  • 70% decrease in average product energy use in 10 years
  • 35% reduction in overall carbon footprint compared to 2015
  • 100% recycled aluminium enclosures in MacBook Air and Max mini
  • 100% responsibly sourced wood fibres in all retail packaging
  • 14 priority materials for transitioning to 100% recycled or renewable content
  • 100% of supplier final assembly sites have adopted safer cleaners and degreasers
  • Apple have expanded their inventory of detailed chemical composition data to over 75% by mass for all new iPhone, iPad and Mac products.
  • All products are free of harmful chemicals like mercury, brominated flame retardants, PVC, phthalates, beryllium, lead int eh solder and arsenic in the display glass.

As one of the biggest tech producers on the planet, Apple has some immense challenges on the road to becoming environmentally sustainable, and there are certainly shortcomings in the way some of these are being addressed.

But the transparency of its procedures, their consequences, and the fixes it aims to implement give it a significant advantage in its green pursuit, even if the dollar-driven bottom line and some unknowns in the way of supplier dealings do occasionally interfere.

It's also important to note that all companies in the electronics industry are facing the same challenges, and few are as involved and vocal about their efforts to combat them as Apple.

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