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Reference No. 15/004C Publication Year 2015
Author(s) Fiona Lock; Yihong Yao
Company Apple Inc.
Industry Consumer Goods, Technology Hardware, Software and Services
Geographic setting Worldwide
Functional Area Strategy & General Management, Production & Operations Management


On April 16, 2015, Apple announced at its California headquarters that it has invested in solar power in China and forest preservation in the USA, thereby redefining and expanding its approach to innovation. During the past four decades, since 1976, Apple has designed and released innovative products such as the Macintosh, iPod, iPhone, iPad and Apple watch, becoming a technology giant in the consumer electronic industry and successfully inspiring user loyalty worldwide.  Not satisfied with these achievements, Apple expanded the scope of its innovation from products and services to environmental sustainability issues, innovation aimed at caring for the planet.

As early as 2000, Apple managed and controlled its operational environmental impact by certifying all its manufacturing facilities worldwide through ISO 14001.  Since then, Apple has continued to seek renewable resources and find environmental-friendly solutions for its products and services.

In June 2013, Apple appointed Lisa Jackson as its new Vice President, Environmental Initiatives, to oversee Apple’s efforts to use renewable energy and green materials efficiently and effectively, invent innovative means of preserving resources, and accelerate the technology giant’s pursuit of environmental sustainability.  By 2015, Apple partnered with The Conservation Fund to protect and manage with environmentally sustainable practices forests that provide fiber for packaging paper, as well as to develop a micro-hydro renewable power project and initiate a solar power farm, fulfilling its mission of making a better planet and achieving its goal of “innovation for everything.”

Learning Objective

Students will be required to summarize Apple’s environmental sustainability strategies and discover these strategies’ rationales. Student will also be required to analyze the limitations and short- and long-term effects of Apple’s environmental sustainability strategies and practices.

Suggested Questions:

1. Summarize Apple’s environmental sustainability strategy.
2. What were the factors that drove Apple to initiate its environmental sustainability strategy?
3. As an ISO 14001-certified company as early as in 2000, what did Apple do to fulfil ISO 14001 requirements?
4. What were the limitations, short-term effects and long-term effects of Apple’s environmental sustainability strategy and practices?

Supplementary Teaching Material:
2-minute Video: Apple (2015) “We believe true innovation must consider everything”. (Download link)

This case was fully supported by a grant from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (UGC/IDS12/14).