By Maura Forrest
October 29, 2015
Apple is looking to green its image in China by building new solar power projects and encouraging its suppliers to do the same.
Last week, Apple announced it will build more than 200 megawatts of solar projects in northern, eastern and southern China. The company claims the initiative will produce enough renewable energy to power 265,000 Chinese homes and will help to offset the energy used in its supply chain.
Its major supplier, Foxconn, has also committed to building 400 megawatts of solar power by 2018.
Apple plans to partner with other suppliers to build more than two gigawatts of clean power projects in the coming years.
“Climate change is one of the great challenges of our time, and the time for action is now,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook in a news release. “The transition to a new green economy requires innovation, ambition and purpose.”
Apple claims the initiatives will avoid more than 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
The company also claims that its operations are now carbon-neutral in China, since it has completed construction of 40 megawatts of solar projects in the Sichuan province. It says the projects generate more than the total amount of electricity used by Apple’s Chinese offices and retail stores.
Apple says its U.S. operations are already carbon-neutral.
The tech company has previously been criticized for turning a blind eye to pollution from its suppliers. In 2011, environmental groups accused 27 suspected Apple suppliers of releasing polluting substances ranging from toxic gases to heavy metal sludge.
In 2013, plants owned by Foxconn and UniMicron Technology Corp., another Apple supplier, were under scrutiny for releasing water tainted with heavy metals into rivers.
Still, Greenpeace IT policy analyst Gary Cook recently praised Apple’s new announcement, calling it a “major step forward.”
“We hope that Samsung, Microsoft and other IT companies will follow their lead in manufacturing their cutting-edge devices with a 21stcentury energy supply,” he said, as reported by Reuters.
In 2011, Greenpeace criticized Apple for relying too heavily on fossil-fuel energy to power its U.S. data centres.