Apple has purchased around 36,000 acres of forest in Maine and North Carolina as part of its growing efforts to promote environmental protection and sustainability.
Apple vice president of environmental initiatives Lisa Jackson, formerly of the Environmental Protection Agency, says in an op-ed for Medium that Apple plans to source the paper used for its product packaging and daily operations from "sustainably managed forests" and "controlled wood sources."
The total land area purchased by Apple covers more than 32,400 acres of forest and wetlands near the Mattawamkeag River in Reed Forest situated in Aroostook County, Maine and 3,600 acres of pine and hardwood forest in Brunswick County in southern North Carolina. The total land area, according to The Conservation Fund, is more than twice the size of Manhattan.
Both forests purchased by Apple are part of a million acres of conserved lands that provide habitat for the Atlantic salmon, bald eagle, and Canada lynx, as well as unique plants and flowers in North Carolina. Moreover, Apple's purchase of forest will ensure that locals will continue to keep their jobs and recreational opportunities will remain, Jackson believes.
"Apple is quantifying the virgin paper footprint from its packaging. Apple is committed to zeroing out that impact by using paper more efficiently, increasing recycled paper content, sourcing paper sustainably, and conserving acreage of working forests around the world equivalent to its virgin paper footprint," Jackson said.
"The Conservation Fund is committed to identifying and conserving those acres in the U.S.," she added. "Through conservation easements, they will ensure these lands remain forests in the future. This helps preserve the supply of raw materials for paper while providing permanent environmental protection and fighting climate change."
Jackson does not specify how much paper Apple will be sourcing from these working forests or how much paper it currently needs for its packaging and operational requirements. The Cupertino company, however, sells hundreds of millions of its iPhones, iPads, and Macs every year, and each item is stored in packaging that consists roughly one-third of non-recyclable fiber. What Jackson does say, however, is that Apple plans to source all its paper needs from working forests.
"Where we want to get, of course, is 100 percent," she told BuzzFeed. "We feel a deep responsibility to take real action and make sure we're addressing our own footprint."
Apple has been largely vocal about its support for sustainability and environmental protection. Just four years ago, Apple was at the bottom of the list of technology companies for its carbon footprint. However, with Tim Cook taking over, Greenpeace named Apple one of the most remarkable Fortune 500 companies when it comes to their efforts to protect the environment.
Apple recently announced that it is spending some $850 million to build a solar farm in California. All of the company's facilities, including its retail stores, offices, and data centers, are powered by renewable energy.
"Apple has been really clear that we want to leave the world better than we found it," Jackson said. "That's one of our values."