Apple Inc. is partnering with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to protect one million acres of working forest in China, the high-tech giant announced Monday.
The multi-year project aims to make the supply of pulp, paper and wood products more sustainable and is part of an expansion of the company's renewable energy and environmental protection initiatives in China, according to a press release from Apple. Apple did not disclose how much pulp, paper and wood it consumes annually.
Apple also announced it intends to expand its industry-leading renewable energy projects to manufacturing facilities in China, following a solar power project launched in southwest China's Sichuan Province in April.
"We've set an example by greening our data centers, retail stores and corporate offices, and we're ready to start leading the way toward reducing carbon emissions from manufacturing," said Tim Cook, Apple's CEO.
Apple has vowed to achieve a net-zero impact on the world's supply of sustainable virgin fiber and power all of its operations worldwide entirely on renewable energy. Currently 87 percent of its global operations run on renewable energy.
"Apple is in a unique position to take the initiative toward this ambitious goal. It is a responsibility we accept," said Cook, adding that Apple has been cooperating with leaders in its supply chain who want to be on the cutting edge of China's green transformation.
"Apple's support for this project and its environmental leadership show that protecting forests is not just good for society but important for business," said Lo Sze Ping, Chief Executive Officer for WWF China.
Lo said he hopes the project will catalyze a new model of corporate leadership in promoting sustainable forest management and more efficient and responsible use of paper resources.
Last month, Apple announced the launch of a 40-megawatt solar power project in Sichuan Province. It is the first solar power project outside the United States that Apple has built.
The new energy project is expected to add 80 million kilowatt hours of clean energy to the local grid annually, which is far more than the energy needed to power Apple's corporate offices and retail stores in China.
Apple has 19 corporate offices and 22 retail stores in China. It plans to bring the number of retail stores in the country to 40 by 2016.
The project will not only help protect the environment, but also bring social and ecological benefits to local people, said Liu Zuoming, chief of Ngapa Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, where the project is under construction.
"We hope that it can be copied and spread to other parts of the prefecture and the province," Liu said.
Apple has been increasing its dependence on solar energy. In February, it announced it will spend US$848 million over 25 years to buy electricity from a large solar power plant to be built in California.
Apple also has solar farms built near its data centers in Maiden, North Carolina, and Reno, Nevada.