The earth is dying. It’s a morbid thought but it’s true. This is why many groups and individuals have been advocating for a shift to renewable energy. Apple is heeding this call with a commitment to bring its carbon footprint to net zero 10 years from now. It’s a tall task.
The idea is to become carbon neutral across its entire business, manufacturing supply chain, and product life cycle by 2030. The company is already carbon neutral today for its global corporate operations.
This new commitment means that by 2030, every Apple device sold will have net zero climate impact. Naturally, Apple has a plan.
Apple is establishing an Impact Accelerator. This will focus on investing in minority-owned businesses that drive positive outcomes in its supply chain and in communities that are disproportionately affected by environmental hazards.
This accelerator is part of Apple’s recently announced US$100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative. This is focused on efforts that address education, economic equality, and criminal justice reform.
The 10-year roadmap
Apple’s 10-year roadmap will lower emissions with a series of innovative actions. These are as follows.
Low carbon product design
Apple will continue to increase the use of low carbon and recycled materials in its products, innovate in product recycling, and design products to be as energy efficient as possible.
- Apple’s latest recycling innovation is a robot the company is calling “Dave.” It disassembles the Taptic Engine from iPhone to better recover key materials such as rare earth magnets and tungsten while also enabling recovery of steel, the next step following its line of “Daisy” iPhone disassembly robots.
- The company’s Material Recovery Lab in Austin, Texas is now partnering with Carnegie Mellon University to further develop engineering solutions. This lab is focused on innovative electronics recycling technology
- All iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch devices released in the past year are made with recycled content, including 100 percent recycled rare earth elements in the iPhone Taptic Engine — a first for Apple and for any smartphone.
- Apple decreased its carbon footprint by 4.3 million metric tons in 2019 through design and recycled content innovations in its products. Over the past 11 years, Apple has reduced the average energy needed for product use by 73 percent.
Expanding energy efficiency
Apple will identify new ways to lower energy use at its corporate facilities and help its supply chain make the same transition.
- Through a new partnership with Apple, the US-China Green Fund will invest $100 million in accelerated energy efficiency projects for Apple’s suppliers.
- The number of facilities participating in Apple’s Supplier Energy Efficiency Program grew to 92 in 2019; these facilities avoided over 779,000 annualized metric tons of supply chain carbon emissions.
- Last year, Apple invested in energy efficiency upgrades to over 6.4 million square feet of new and existing buildings, lowering electricity needs by nearly one-fifth and saving the company $27 million.
Apple will remain at 100 percent renewable energy for its operations — focusing on creating new projects and moving its entire supply chain to clean power.
- Apple now has commitments from over 70 suppliers to use 100 percent renewable energy for Apple production — equivalent to nearly 8 gigawatts in commitments to power the manufacturing of its products. Once completed, these commitments will avoid over 14.3 million metric tons of CO2e annually — the equivalent of taking more than 3 million cars off the road each year.
- New and completed projects in Arizona, Oregon, and Illinois bring Apple’s renewable capacity for its corporate operations to over 1 GW — equivalent to powering over 150,000 homes a year. Over 80 percent of the renewable energy that Apple sources for its facilities are now from Apple-created projects, benefiting communities and other businesses.
- Globally, Apple is launching one of the largest new solar arrays in Scandinavia, as well as two new projects providing power to under-served communities in the Philippines and Thailand.
Process and material innovations
Apple will tackle emissions through technological improvements to processes and materials needed for its products.
- Apple is supporting the development of the first-ever direct carbon-free aluminium smelting process through investments and collaboration with two of its aluminium suppliers.
- Today the company is announcing that the first batch of this low carbon aluminium is currently being used in production intended for use with the 16-inch MacBook Pro®.
- Through partnerships with its suppliers, Apple reduced emissions from fluorinated gases by more than 242,000 metric tons in 2019. Fluorinated gases are used in the manufacturing of some consumer electronics components and can contribute to global warming.
Apple is investing in forests and other nature-based solutions around the world to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
- Apple is announcing today a first-of-its-kind carbon solutions fund to invest in the restoration and protection of forests and natural ecosystems globally.
- In partnership with Conservation International, the company will invest in new projects, building on learnings from existing work like restoring degraded savannahs in Kenya and a vital mangrove ecosystem in Colombia. Mangroves not only protect the coasts and help support the livelihood of those communities where they grow, but they also can store up to 10 times more carbon than forests on land.
- Through its work with The Conservation Fund, the World Wildlife Fund, and Conservation International, the company has protected and improved the management of over 1 million acres of forests and natural climate solutions in China, the US, Colombia, and Kenya.
Apple is working with governments, businesses, NGOs, and consumers around the world to make all of these possible. Check out the links below for more detailed information on these plans.
Jeff Bezos says Amazon should treat its workers in a better way
His final letter to shareholders before stepping down as CEO
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos used his final letter to Amazon shareholders to focus on employee well-being and its significant carbon footprint. The transition is closely watched by everyone as the legendary co-founder hands over the reigns to Andy Jassy.
The e-commerce giant has always been customer-centric, which was the prime reason it was able to garner trust and support. Now, Bezos thinks it time to put the company’s workforce on priority.
Jassy, the former head of Amazon Web Services, is taking over the top job so that Bezos can step back from day-to-day responsibilities. It’ll now be his responsibility to ensure Amazon continues its growth trajectory and sustains the pandemic-induced boom.
It’s currently hounded by regulators, labor unions, and activists around the world. There are multiple allegations — unfair treatment of warehouse workers, stifling competition, discouraging unionization, and shortchanged partners. It’s a long list, and the pressure keeps mounting as the company’s stock increases in value.
Bezos also talked about creating wealth for shareholders, the fact that climate change is real, the recent warehouse union vote in Bessemer, Alabama, US. Among his proposals are new staffing rotations to reduce physical stress at warehouses. He said that 40 percent of Amazon’s work-related injuries are musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), such as strains and sprains from repetitive motions. These injuries tend to occur in the first six months of an employee’s tenure.
The founder also touted the company’s decision to increase Amazon’s minimum wage to US$ 15 per hour, a rate that labor groups have been advocating for the longest of time.
When it comes to workers who can’t consistently meet the company’s expectations, he says Amazon provides coaching to them, with 82 percent of it being “positive.” He also added that less than 2.6 percent of the staff was fired for not meeting the job expectations.
Amazon is also trying to cut down its carbon emissions and has pledged to have 100,000 electric delivery vans by 2030. Bezos has personally committed US$ 10 billion in grants for climate-oriented companies and organizations.
Why is Amazon starting a $250 million venture fund in India?
Aims to bring 1 million offline stores online by 2025
Amazon has announced a US$ 250 million venture fund called Amazon Smbhav Venture Fund that’ll invest in small and medium-sized businesses. The goal is to boost India’s export by using technology and the marketplace’s reach.
Amazon Smbhav will be focusing on the digitization of small businesses, agri-tech innovations to raise farmer productivity, and health tech for quality universal healthcare. The fund was announced at Amazon India’s annual Smbhav Summit.
It intends to tap offline sellers and professionals via the fund and on onboarding a million shops by 2025. Another initiative is “Spotlight NorthEast,” which will bring 50,000 artisans, weavers, and small businesses online from India’s North-Eastern states. The region is known for its local produce like honey, tea, and spices.
The announcement came at a fireside chat at the summit between Andy Jassy, incoming CEO of Amazon and Amit Agarwal, Global Senior VP and Country Head, Amazon India. They also revealed the first bet Amazon was making through the new fund — invoice discounting platform M1xchange, in which it has led a $10 million investment.
Amazon said it created close to 300,000 jobs since January 2020 and one million in total. It also boasted of having almost 70,000 sellers, exporting Indian goods to other markets totaling US$ 3 billion in sales.
The timing of Amazon India’s announcement is key because the e-commerce companies have been barred from delivering in the state of Maharashtra amid a Coronavirus-led curfew. While the restrictions are regional, businesses are unable to get necessary and basic supplies. In a work-from-home world, getting an emergency mice/keyboard or mattress should be easy via digitization, but there are antitrust concerns.
Due to a lockdown, offline sellers cannot operate and thus, don’t want online businesses to eat their share. The Narendra Modi-led government has historically sided with the offline traders since they constitute a majority of India’s market. The offline market is still the king, and the gap between the two is very substantial.
If online players operate exclusively for too long, they’ll start gobbling up market share gradually, killing the smaller businesses. While the aim is to maintain a level-playing field, the current rules aren’t helping anybody at the end of the day. The region also fails to collect indirect taxes over the possible transactions, leading to a cash crunch while the pandemic rages.
The FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) rules for the retail market were changed in 2019, meaning Amazon India could no longer directly sell its products. It had to act like a marketplace to maintain healthy competition since 100 percent FDI is allowed in e-commerce as a tech platform, but not as a retailer.
Thanks to the fund, Amazon can show its commitment to India and its initiatives to encourage online trade. India’s new farm laws also make it easier for private companies to invest in agriculture or partner with farmers for contracts.
Amazon had announced an investment of US$1 billion in January 2020 and its purpose was also the same — digitizing India’s small and medium businesses. Founder Jeff Bezos had said back then, “We are doing this now because it is working. And when something works you should double down on it.”
For now, the concerns of a monopoly are diminished because Amazon is going up against India’s homegrown Flipkart, which Walmart now backs. Reliance is also eyeing this segment and has already kicked off a hyperlocal service called JioMart. Lastly, many other retailers like Dmart, Tata CliQ + Bigbasket, and Grofers are available.
Nvidia will now let you rent a DGX Station A100 mini supercomputer
It’s not meant for gaming though
Today, many services are based on a subscription model, whether it’s music streaming or ordering monthly coffee brew packs. Even the gaming industry is gradually moving to a subscription-based business. So, what’s left? How about subscribing to a plan that gives you access to a supercomputer?
Nvidia is trying to pull off a trend in the supercomputer world — selling them via a subscription model. The equipment is costly and requires a lot of upfront investment, discouraging smaller companies or individual developers.
Its DGX Station A100 is a new cloud-native supercomputer that delivers 2.5 Petaflops of AI training power & 5 PetaOPS of INT8 inferencing horsepower. It’s also unique to support MIG (Multi-Instance GPU) protocol, allowing multiple processes to execute faster. The computing resources can be shared with up to 28 scientists at once.
Each A100 system has dual AMD EPYC 7742 CPUs with 64-cores each, supports up to 2TB of memory, and has eight A100 GPUs.
A DGX SuperPod, on the other hand, consists of multiple DGX Station computers. They are AI supercomputers featuring 20 or more Nvidia DGX A100 systems and Nvidia InfiniBand HDR networking. Nvidia intends to open the world of AI to more enterprise customers for artificial intelligence, drug research, autonomous vehicles, and more.
The bare-metal server features 80 GB A100 Tensor Core GPUs, delivering 25 percent faster inference performance and two times faster data analytics performance. This rig clearly isn’t meant for gaming and is specifically designed for research, complex calculations, and content creation.
It’s the first time Nvidia is trying a subscription model, and it genuinely makes a lot of sense. GX Stations start at US$ 149,000, while the DGX SuperPod starts at US$ 7 million and scales to US$ 60 million. This makes it a herculean task for a small team to source the gear. A subscription starts at US$ 9,000 a month, and even though it may sound a lot for a “processor,” it isn’t.
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