Laura K. Cowan

Apple Named "Least Green" Tech Company by Greenpeace

by , 04/21/11

Apple iPhone 4, green technology, sustainable technology, Greenpeace, How Dirty Is Your Data

Greenpeace just named Apple the least green company on its list of tech firms because of its reliance on dirty coal to power the company’s data centers. Greenpeace’s report, “How Dirty Is Your Data?,” shows that Apple’s investment in a new data center in North Carolina will triple its electricity consumption, which is the same amount of electricity used by 80,000 U.S. homes. Sixty-two percent of the new data center’s energy will be supplied by coal, with 32% supplied by nuclear power.

Apple iPhone, Apple iPad, green technology, sustainable technology, Greenpeace, How Dirty Is Your Data

Overall, Greenpeace’s report estimates that Apple relies on coal for 54.5% of its data center energy needs, but that’s not much more than Facebook’s 53.2%. The greenest tech companies listed in the report are Yahoo!, Google, and Amazon. Jonathan Koomey, a project scientist for the End-Use Forecasting Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, whose work was cited in the study, defended the IT industry against criticism: “The use of IT often reduces environmental impacts. When we compared greenhouse gas emissions for downloading music to buying it on a CD, for example, we found downloads reduced emissions 40-80%.”

What do you think of this report? Do the large data centers required for cloud computing help or harm the environment?

+ Greenpeace

Via Guardian

Photos © Yutaka Tsutano

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5 Comments

  1. Stallar April 24, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Wow, interesting to know how much coal is used to produce these gadgets. I already assumed Apple wasn’t very environmentally conscious anyway…when you produce a new gadget every year and expect people to constantly upgrade, you risk your old products going in to landfills. I’ve had my computer for 5 years and only upgrade phones when I have to, sadly a lot of people out there have to have the latest and greatest and Apple caters to them.

  2. Beef April 23, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Maybe Apple is not the problem , but all you techies that think you have to buy their products?

  3. wazure April 21, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    Here is Apple’s dealings with sustainability in their computer lifecycles: http://www.apple.com/environment/ It’s pretty impressive (providing it is all true).

    Also, when the article says Apple will triple its electricity use with their new data center, is this fair to assume it is bad, since the company is growing?

    I would agree, sure, try to integrate more renewables Apple, but they have tried to get their environmental footprint down a lot with computer manufacturing. It’s probably just a matter of time before they tackle this too.

  4. willravel April 21, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    Apple absolutely should invest more in solar and wind, but their products are highly recyclable and are energy efficient. They specifically use aluminum and glass to make their products more recyclable and easier to recycle, and avoid using lead, cadmium, arsenic, and mercury. Also, my Mac mini is the most energy efficient desktop computer available (it uses the same amount of energy as an 85W light bulb). Greenpeace is right to go after companies that are poisoning the environment, but you have to factor in the good with the bad. I suspect other computer hardware manufacturers are less environmentally friendly than Apple.

  5. space-fish April 21, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    Hmm. With a company as rich and powerful as Apple, who advertises their products as sustainable, I am surprised that they do not pay a little extra to carbon offset their energy consumption or see that all their energy is supplied through sustainable means.

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