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Google ESG and Apple ESG: How They Make a Positive Impact on the World

Discover how the two biggest organizations roll in massive profits and, at the same time, make a positive impact on the world through effective ESG reporting.
by 
Fernanda Ferreira
December 30, 2023
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Have you ever wondered how much CO2e the top 5 big-tech companies – Amazon, Google, Apple, Meta, and Microsoft – churn out each year? A lot. In the past year alone, these companies emitted 125.9 million tonnes of CO2e between them - that is more than the entire country of Belgium.

These companies, however, are on a mission to change their ways, and it could not come quickly enough. The urgency stems from the mounting pressure they face from regulators, investors, customers, and other stakeholders.

Among their ranks, two names stand out, not only due to their financial dominance but also owing to their unwavering dedication to fostering a positive holistic impact on the world: Apple and Google (specifically their holding company, Alphabet).

Both companies have demonstrated that it's possible for companies with substantial global influence to make a positive impact on the world while still raking in that cash. The burning question is – how?

How can companies be profitable and make a positive impact?

How can two of the biggest organizations on the planet roll in massive profits and, at the same time, make a positive impact on the world? What concrete initiatives have they undertaken to make it happen?

Top 100 global companies 1-20 published in The Global Top 100 Companies - by Market Capitalisation by PWC.


Apple

Let's first take a look at Apple's efforts on the sustainability front. They've been making progress by collaborating with over 175 suppliers who have committed to using 100% renewable energy for Apple production. Beyond this, they've diverted over 2 million tons of waste from landfills since 2015 and have conserved more than 50 billion gallons of freshwater since 2013. But that’s not all:

  • Apple has its sights set on achieving carbon neutrality by 2030.
  • Their latest ESG report shows they've successfully avoided 23 million metric tonnes of emissions across all scopes and reduced their carbon footprint by 40% compared to 2015.
  • To slash carbon emissions even further, Apple is actively pushing for eco-friendly designs – take the shift to the Apple M1 chip in the 13-inch MacBook Pro, for example. This switch has reduced the product's carbon footprint by 8%.
  • Roughly ⅕ of the materials in Apple's products come from recycled sources. And by 2030, their big goal is to achieve carbon neutrality.

This clearly highlights Apple's ability to bring innovative products to consumers while also actively lessening their environmental impact. Can we learn from them?

Apple’s Historical and Future Emissions published in Apple’s Environmental Progress Report


Google

Now, let's take a closer look at Google and what they have achieved. Back in August 2020, Alphabet, Google's parent company, issued the largest sustainability bond ever recorded, with the funds generated used to support various new and ongoing initiatives. Remarkably, the entire net proceeds of $5.75 billion from this Sustainability Bond have been allocated to these efforts.

Google's sustainability approach centers around three core principles:

  • Accelerating the shift to carbon-free energy and fostering a circular economy.
  • Empowering individuals and communities through the potential of technology.
  • Creating positive outcomes for the people and regions impacted by Google's operations.

Moreover, Google's been on a journey to make its data centers some of the most efficient in the world for over a decade by optimizing the use of energy, water, and materials. Now, they're turning heads with new cooling technology that could dramatically cut down water use in their data centers. This is all part of their "climate-conscious" data center cooling initiative to reduce its impact on water in the communities where it operates.

Google and Apple Walk the Talk

These two tech giants aren't just talking: they're doing and showing big profits can go hand in hand with having a positive impact. And it's not just them – a study that looked at over 2000 ESG performance analyses found that almost half of the companies showed a connection between financial performance and ESG performance.

Profitability is not the only benefit for organizations implementing sustainability initiatives:

  • When consumers are asked if they care about buying sustainable products, time and time again, the answer is yes: in a 2020 McKinsey US consumer sentiment survey, more than 60% of respondents said they'd pay more for a product with sustainable packaging, for example.
  • Sustainability-conscious consumers are loyal, with Capgemini reporting that 77% are more likely to buy from and remain loyal to socially responsible brands.
  • Investors are also increasingly prioritizing sustainability, with 89% of investors including ESG issues in some form as part of their investment approach.
  • There are an increasing number of international regulations organizations must comply with.

Shifting Priorities from Profit to Positive Impact

Gone are the days of putting profit before all else. Non-financial aspects are now crucial to a company's strategy, shaping long-term success, with nearly 90% of companies having or developing strategies to manage their environmental, social, and governance practices.

Apple and Google's sustainability achievements stem from genuine, transparent, and accountable initiatives - actions that steer clear of greenwashing pitfalls and pave the way for financial success.

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