Apple environmental head Lisa Jackson talks about making Apple more environmentally friendly


With Tim Cook at the helm, Apple has continuously demonstrated an increasing focus on ensuring that its operations are as environmentally sound as possible. A perfect example of Apple's commitment to clean up its act (pun partially intended) is its recent hire of Lisa Jackson as VP of Environmental Initiatives. Previously, Jackson served as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

News that Jackson would be joining the mix at Apple was first revealed by none other than Tim Cook who let the cat out of the bag during this year's All Things D Conference.

When you get larger, you get more attention. It comes with the territory. We're doing incredible work in the environment for example. We've been focused on that for a long time ... eliminated toxins from all of our products, running data centers on 100 percent renewable energy, largest solar farm of any non-utility. Lisa Jackson is joining Apple ... she recently left the EPA and will be coordinating efforts across the company. She'll be reporting to me.

Hardly a nominal position, Jackson means business and has every intention of increasing the green factor at Apple.

Earlier this week, Jackson spoke at VERGE, a conference focused on increasing sustainability through technology.

Gigaom has a great recap of her speech, and lest anyone think that Jackson will quietly toe the party line, think again.

This quote, relayed by Gigaom, should put those types of reservations to rest.

"Tim Cook didn't hire Lisa Jackson to be quiet and keep the status quo," Jackson said. "We understand our responsibility and we do care."

The typically secretive company is eager to share its environmental initiatives. At the same time, Jackson clearly felt comfortable talking about the inherent challenges of her position and discussing just what she's focusing on at Apple.

Jackson talked about the challenges of pushing and developing sustainability projects within Apple. One of them is the challenge of collecting solid data and being able to measure projects and their success rates. This includes Apple's method to calculate the energy use and carbon footprint of its operation and products, the manufacturing of its devices and the supply chain and customers' use of the products. Jackson pointed to the life cycle analysis that Steve Jobs publicized back in 2009 in an effort to change the company's image, as an example of Apple's attention to creating sustainability metrics and data.

Jackson leads a team of 17 people and one of her group's tasks is to recruit employees who are willing to help with the company's sustainability projects. There is a group of such employees who called themselves Apple Earth, and Jackson said she joined that group on her second day at the company. "People are busy with their primary work, so it's about finding champions in areas where people are interested in," said Jackson.

At one point, Jackson joked that the best way to ensure something at Apple gets done faster is to tell an engineer that it can't be done.

If you want more details on the content of Jackson's speech, GreenBiz also has a nice recap over here. Even better, if you're eager to hear every detail from Jackson's 29-minute talk, the full video can be viewed below.