JUL 11TH, 2016 - SEVILLA

Apple makes surprise entry into the waste-to-energy industry

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Author: Mª José Jiménez
Dive Brief:
  • Apple will build a new facility for creating electricity from landfill gas (LFG) in North Carolina's Catawba County.

  • This announcement comes shortly after the company received federal approval to begin selling surplus solar power from its farms through a subsidiary called Apple Energy.

  • The company will enter into a 16-year lease for 3.7 acres of space at the Blackburn Resource Recovery Facility in Newton, NC. Apple also has the option for a five-year extension. Quadrogen Power Systems, Inc. will treat the methane.

Dive Insight:

Engadget attributes this new direction to Lisa Jackson, former head of the EPA, who was hired in 2013. The company now operates on 93% renewable energy and aims to reach 100% in the coming years. Apple's intentions for the LFG facility aren't fully known, but some have speculated that the company may want this energy to power one of its data centers in Catawba County.

While this news is surprising, it fits into Apple's recent efforts to be more sustainable. The company said it collected 40,000 tons of e-waste in 2014 and recovered almost $40 million worth of gold from e-waste last year. Liam, a new robot with 29 arms that can disassemble an iPhone in 11 seconds, has also garnered many headlines. Yet Apple's new sustainable approach has encountered some roadblocks, with waste diversion rates for its offices and retail stores dropping significantly over the past two years.

Tapping into the momentum behind LFG-to-energy comes as new federal emissions goals put an increased emphasis on methane reduction.