Apple CEO Tim Cook announced at the D: All Things Digital conference this weekthat he has hired former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Chief Lisa Jackson to head up the technology company’s environmental activities.
After serving under the Obama administration for four years, Jackson in January resigned as head of the EPA after fighting several battles with industry groups against her environmental regulations and admitting to using a false email alias to conduct official EPA business. Industry groups representing power plants, refineries and manufacturing companies often claimed Jackson’s policies hurt the economy and slowed job growth.
Cook said that Jackson’s official title will be vice president for environmental initiatives and that she will report directly to him. She will help shape and implement Apple’s environmental strategy, which will likely focus on manufacturing and products, All Things D says.
Over the years, Apple has come under constant criticism for controversial environmental practices. Greenpeace has targeted it over toxic chemicals, unsustainable batteries and poor working conditions for its overseas manufacturers’ employees. The company has since taken steps towards more sustainable practices and receives high marks around its attention to the environment.
In response to the announcement, Greenpeace's Senior IT Analyst Gary Cook said, "Apple has made a bold move in hiring Lisa Jackson, a proven advocate with a track record of combating toxic waste and the dirty energy that causes global warming, two of Apple’s biggest challenges as it continues to grow. Jackson can make Apple the top environmental leader in the tech sector by helping the company use its influence to push electric utilities and governments to provide the clean energy that both Apple and America need right now."
Apple also has shifted more attention to running its data centers off of renewable energy, reducing its carbon footprint and decreasing waste and toxic chemicals from its devices. The company says it now uses 100 percent renewable energy sources to power its data centers, taking it to 75 percent renewables across its worldwide corporate facilities. The data centers are powered by a combination of solar, wind, hydro and geothermal.
Despite this progress, Apple has shown it is not always fully committed to embracing environmental regulations. Last year, the company, under Tim Cook’s new leadership, opted out of certifying its computers for the green electronics registry EPEAT only to later reverse the decision, claiming it to be a mistake.