Apple, the world’s largest technology company by revenue, wants to ship more of its iconic products by sea to reduce its carbon emissions.
The Cupertino, California-based company says transporting products around the world makes up about 9% of its comprehensive carbon footprint.
The iPhone maker says it is shifting more product volume to shipping modes that are less carbon-intensive than air transport, such as ocean or rail.
Apple’s vast supply chain comprises more than 400 facilities across 180 regions in nearly 30 countries, stretching from the Austrian Alps to Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, according to a recent report by Bloomberg.
“Apple’s carbon footprint methodology shows that shipping the same product by ocean emits 95% fewer emissions than by air,” the company said.
For its carbon neutral Apple Watch models, including watches and bands, Apple says it will ship at least 50% of the combined weight using non-air modes, which it claims will cut total transportation emissions nearly in half.
Additionally, the packaging of all Apple Watch Series 9 and SE models has been redesigned for compactness, with a new, smaller shape that reportedly allows for 25% more devices per shipment.
Thus far, only 2.8% of total US smartphone imports traveled by sea in the second quarter 2023, though that was up from 1.1% a year earlier, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
“While the latest phones may still need to be shipped by air to meet launch dates, earlier-generation equipment could be shipped by sea,” it added.
S&P Global Market Intelligence says the proportion of US laptop computer imports by all suppliers by sea has already returned to pre-pandemic levels after supply chain disruptions of the past two years.
In the second quarter of 2023, 37.6% of US laptop computer imports arrived by sea, according to its data — the highest in over 10 years.
“That may reflect efforts to cut costs in a low-demand environment. It does, however, reflect the off-peak season. In the third and fourth quarters of 2022, ahead of peak sales season, ocean shipments represented 16.6%,” S&P Global Market Intelligence said.
Apple’s ambition is to make every product carbon neutral by the end of the decade, including the entire global supply chain and the lifetime use of every device Apple makes.
The company says it is “committed to supporting broader efforts to decarbonise shipping industries”, such as by being a member of the First Movers Coalition.
The coalition, unveiled during the COP26 climate conference in the UK city of Glasgow, aims to be a platform for companies to make purchasing commitments that demand low and zero-carbon fuels and technology.