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Apple offers free recycling of used products

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BR Australia Apple Environment

Michael Liedtke San Francisco

APPLE is offering free recycling of all its used products and vowing to power all of its stores, offices and data centres with renewable energy to reduce the pollution caused by its devices and online services.

The iPhone and iPad maker is detailing its efforts to cultivate a greener Apple in an environmental section on the company’s website that launched on Monday. The site highlights the ways that the Cupertino, California, company is increasing its reliance on alternative power sources and sending less electronic junk to landfills.

Apple had already been distributing gift cards at some of its 420 worldwide stores in exchange for iPhones and iPods still in good enough condition to be resold. Now, all of the company’s stores will recycle any Apple product at no charge. Gift cards will not be handed out for recycled products deemed to have little or no resale value.

The offer covers a wide array of electronics that are not supposed to be dumped in landfills because of the toxins in them. In the past seven years alone, Apple has sold more than 1 billion iPhones, iPods, iPads and Mac computers.

The new initiative, timed to coincide with yesterday’s annual celebration of Earth Day, strives to position Apple as an environmental steward amid the technological whirlwind of gadgets and internet services that have been drawing more electricity from power plants that primarily run on natural gas and coal.

Technology products and services accounted for about 2 percent of global emissions in 2012, roughly the same as the airline industry, according to statistics cited by environmental NGO Greenpeace in a report released earlier this month.

Some of the biggest power demands come from huge data centres that house the stacks of computers that process search requests, store photos and e-mails and stream video.

These online services, often dubbed “cloud computing”, collectively consume more electricity than all but five countries – China, the US, Japan, India and Russia.

As the world’s largest technology company, Apple is trying to hatch more environmental solutions than problems.

“What the company wants to do is use all our innovation and all of our expertise to make the planet more secure and make the environment better,” Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice-president of environmental initiatives, said on Monday. Jackson ran the US’s Environmental Protection Agency before joining Apple in June last year.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook underscored the commitment by narrating a video about the company’s efforts to protect the environment.

“To us, better is a force of nature,” Cook says in the video.

The campaign appears to be more than just public relations stunt, based on Greenpeace’s high praise for Apple in its recent review of the technology industry’s environmental responsibility.

Among the 19 companies covered in the report, Greenpeace described Apple as “the most innovative and most aggressive in pursuing its commitment to be 100 percent renewably powered”.

Greenpeace also gave high marks to Apple rival Google, and Facebook, which makes one of the most popular apps on the iPhone and iPad.

Apple’s four data centres, located in North Carolina, Oregon, Nevada and California, already relied entirely on renewable energy, the company said.

About 94 percent of the power in Apple’s offices in the world is now supplied by renewable energy sources, up from 35 percent in 2010, according to the company.

Apple is building a new headquarters in Cupertino that will be powered solely by renewable energy when it is completed in 2016.

About 120 of Apple’s US stores, or nearly half of the outlets in the country, run entirely on renewable energy. – Sapa-AP


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