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Previously I wrote about Apple’s new flashy sustainability ad.  As expected, the video caused some controversy as skeptics dig into Apple’s sustainability credentials. Recently, CNET published an article examining Apple’s claims and subjecting them to some scrutiny. Although it appears that Apple’s statements in the ad are factually true, CNET argues they may be misleading when it comes to the big picture. This is because the majority of Apple’s emissions – like many other companies – don’t come from Scopes 1 and 2 but from Scope 3. While Apple’s suppliers have pledged to transition to renewable energy by 2030, the article questions how seriously they take that commitment, especially since they are out of Apple’s immediate sphere of control. The article quotes Xueying Wu from Greenpeace East Asia stating:

“’It’s important to remember that not a single one of Apple’s major suppliers has achieved 100% renewable energy across its own operations,’ Wu added. ‘Suppliers such as Foxconn and Samsung Electronics have been transitioning to renewable energy far too slowly.’”

Additionally, Apple faces credibility challenges in whether its business model can be considered fundamentally unsustainable. Apple’s iPhones are notoriously difficult to repair – the article states that is intentional in order to drive new iPhone sales and that the company’s

“green initiatives, while significant, are juxtaposed against Apple’s aggressive product launch cycle, raising doubts about the company’s motives and sincerity toward the cause, and whether it’s as environmentally friendly as it continues to boast.” 

Companies should consider how the structure of their business model reflects their sustainability messaging. If you are focused on reaching net-zero, it may not be worth rethinking your business model’s role in the market. However, if your company claims (as many do) that “sustainability is built into everything we do” or “sustainability is in our DNA” it is worth examining how that’s reflected by the business strategy and execution.

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The Editor

Zachary Barlow is a licensed attorney. He earned his JD from the University of Mississippi and has a bachelor’s in Public Policy Leadership. He practiced law at a mid-size firm and handled a wide variety of cases. During this time he assisted in overseeing compliance of a public entity and litigated contract disputes, gaining experience both in and outside of the courtroom. Zachary currently assists the editorial team by providing research and creating content on a spectrum of ESG… View Profile