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Tech Companies Up Green Efforts

Technology companies are trying to shed their image as energy-rapacious behemoths whose products pollute the waste stream with metals dangerous to the environment and human health.

Companies such as Apple, HP and Legrand are among the major enterprises that have launched initiatives to go greener. Here’s what they’re doing:

Apple: Ninety-three percent of Apple’s facilities, including stores, run on renewable energy, and that grows to 100 percent in the U.S., China, and 21 other countries, said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s VP of environment, policy and social initiatives. The renewable energy is purchased from existing sources through the electrical grid or from Apple- built sources, such as a 40-megawatt solar farm that powers 34 retail stores and 14 Apple offices in China. All data centers are powered by the sun, wind or water power, she added. As for paper used in Apple packaging, 99 percent of the paper is either recycled of sourced from “sustainably managed forests,” she said. The company is moving to all-paper packaging.

Apple’s Liam robot deconstructs iPhones to reuse their cobalt, lithium, gold, copper, silver and platinum.

Apple’s iPhones are also recycled. The “vast majority” of phones that Apple gets back, including those from its upgrade and trade-in programs, are reused, she said. A robot called Liam deconstructs phones that can’t be refurbished and extracts and reuses cobalt and lithium from batteries, gold and copper from the cameras, and silver and platinum from the main logic board, she said.

To recycle phones, consumers can bring old iPhones to Apple stores, or mail them for free to Apple.

HP: HP just joined a coalition of 57 companies pledging to use renewable energy sources to generate 100 percent of their electricity – eventually.

HP joined the RE100 coalition, led by the non-profit Climate Group, which helps enterprises transition to renewable energy sources and “accelerate the transformation of the global energy market to a low-carbon economy,” the Climate Group said.

HP plans to reach the 40 percent renewable electricity mark by 2020 in its global operations.

To achieve the goal, the company pledges to “optimize operations/building efficiency, increase the use of on-site renewable power, and acquire or generate off-site renewable power to offset brown-power emissions. Tactics to implement the latter include the use of renewable energy credits and power purchase agreements.

Other RE100 members include BMW, Adobe, Google, Johnson and Johnson, Microsoft, Walmart and Starbucks.

Legrand North America: The supplier of home automation, building infrastructure and lighting-control products plans on April 18 to install a fuel cell at its West Hartford, Conn., headquarters to supply power to 80 percent of the more than 200,000-square-foot campus.

The HQ includes the company’s Legrand Experience Center (LEC), an exhibit that features many of Legrand’s home automation, building infrastructure and lighting control brands, including Vantage.