Apple buying 36,000 acres of US forest land for sustainable product packaging

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Apple has partnered with The Conservation Fund on a far-reaching initiative designed to permanently protect working forests in the United States while ensuring steady supply of paper products for sustainable product packaging, according to a press release Thursday by The Conservation Fund.

The “breakthrough” deal will see the Cupertino firm purchase over 36,000 acres of vulnerable forestland in the Maine and North Carolina regions, which is larger than the land area of the City of San Francisco.

The collaboration will ensure that America’s working forests stay working forests. “For Apple, this is the beginning of a worldwide effort, one that represents a new approach as it reassesses its impact on the world’s paper supply chain,” noted the company.

Through its commitment, Apple can ensure a steady supply of sustainably harvested timber to paper and pulp mills, noted the organization.

“Apple is clearly leading by example — one that we hope others will follow,” said Larry Selzer, president and CEO of The Conservation Fund.

“By all accounts, the loss of America’s working forests is one of our nation’s greatest environmental challenges. The initiative announced today is precedent-setting.”

Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environmental initiatives and former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, told Buzzfeed that the company no longer wishes to buy pulp from outside vendors.

“Imagine if every time you opened a package from a company you knew that it came from a working forest,” she said. “And imagine if companies took seriously their paper chain and made sure that was renewable, just like energy. And imagine if they didn’t just buy renewable paper, but took the step of ensuring that they would stay working forests forever.”

Apple sells hundreds of millions of devices each year, shipping each in a paper package composed of about one-third nonrecycled fiber, or virgin paper as it’s called.

“Where we want to get, of course, is 100 percent,” said Jackson.

In addition to using paper more efficiently and increasing recycled paper content, Apple hopes to achieve its goal by sourcing paper sustainably and conserving acreage of working forests around the world equivalent to its virgin paper footprint.

The paper produced by the Maine and North Carolina is equivalent to nearly half the nonrecycled fiber that went into Phone, iPad, iPod, Mac and Apple TV packaging last year.

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“We feel a deep responsibility to take real action and make sure we’re addressing our own footprint,” she added.

“And if we take the approach of just buying sustainably sourced paper, we’re not making the world a better place — we’re zeroing out. Apple has been really clear that we want to leave the world better than we found it; that’s one of our values.”

A Medium post penned by Lisa Jackson and Larry Selzer adds that the mutually beneficial partnership will not only help preserve the supply of raw materials for paper, but provide permanent environmental protection and help fight climate change while protecting Atlantic salmon, bald eagles and Canada lynx.

Apple has made great strides over the past few years to ensure the environmental sustainability of its supply chain and today’s “precedent-setting” deal marks another step in the right direction.

Source: The Conservation Fund