In Brief

Apple’s green bonds invested in carbon-free aluminum

$550m of the company's 2019 green bond have been allocated among 50 projects

Apple’s green bond program has helped develop the world’s first commercially available low-carbon aluminum production, the company said in a recent update.

The company, which began its green bonds program in 2016, has to date issued $4.7bn among three bonds, about $3bn of which has been allocated, Apple stated in a March 24 green bond impact report.

Assets from the first two bonds, issued in 2016 and 2017, have been fully allocated, while about a quarter of the 2019 bond, or $550m, is now invested across 50 projects. Collectively, those projects are estimated to offset or mitigate more than 2.8m metric tons of carbon-dioxide equivalents and will include 700 megawatts of renewable energy capacity, the company stated.

One of the latest – and the one the company is touting – is its investment in Canada-based aluminum maker Elysis, through a 2018 partnership with Alcoa, Rio Tinto and the governments of Canada and Quebec. Apple purchased the first run of aluminum in 2019, which it used to make some of its laptops, the company stated.

Elysis, which uses hydropower in a “carbon-free” smelting process, recently built out a large-scale prototype that allows it to make “commercial purity primary aluminum at scale.”

“The breakthrough technology produces oxygen instead of greenhouse gases, and the achievement marks a major milestone in the production of aluminum, one of the world’s most widely used metals,” Apple stated in its report.

The company is now purchasing more of the aluminum, which it plans to use in making its new iPhone SE.

Other allocations made by the 2019 green bond support a reduction in its Scope 3 emissions, with a clean energy program for its suppliers, which includes training and policy advocacy in Japan, Vietnam and South Korea, the company stated.

“The energy used to manufacture Apple products represents over 70% of Apple’s comprehensive carbon footprint,” the company said. “That’s why we’re investing in programs that help suppliers reduce their energy use and transition to renewable energy.”

abrdn to push for DEI in portfolio companies

The firm will vote against companies lacking ethnic diversity

abrdn is planning to vote against boards that don’t have at least some racial or ethnic diversity, the company stated Monday.

In a statement, the company said it “formalized our intention to require boards of our investee companies in the S&P 1500 and Russell 3000 to have at least one racially or ethnically diverse member, otherwise we will vote against or withhold from the re-election of the nomination committee chair.

“In addition, we will continue to take voting action on all-male boards with a higher expectation of 25% female representation on large cap company boards. We will look to increase this expectation to 30% in 2023.”

The company, formerly known as Standard Life Aberdeen, noted companies with diverse workforces and cultures can attract top job candidates and thus lead to stronger productivity and financial performance.

BNY adds sustainable bond ETF

Fourth sustainable ETF in the company's lineup

BNY Mellon has added a sustainable ETF to its line, with the product launching March 22 on NYSE Arca.

The BNY Mellon Responsible Horizons Corporate Bond ETF (RHCB) is subadvised by Insight North America, a subsidiary of BNY firm Insight Investment. That firm, which specializes in fixed income and risk management, has a total of $1.2trn in assets under management, according to the announcement from BNY.

The product is BNY’s fourth ETF to feature sustainable investment and its sixth actively managed ETF, the firm stated.

“The ETF seeks to emphasize what Insight believes to be the best, and avoid the worst, performers on ESG issues, and to carefully consider the approach taken to investments in environmentally sensitive industries,” the company said in its announcement.

ISS adds water risk ratings

Measuring risk exposure and management

ISS this week began rating about 7,400 public companies on their water risk, a launch timed to coincide with World Water Day.

The ratings are based on 11 data points per company and are designed to assess its level of freshwater-related risk as well as its management of that risk, according to ISS. The water risk exposure classification is based on a company’s industry, geography and supply chain risks. The water risk management performance score, meanwhile, measures operational performance. Overall scores range from 0 to 100, indicating substantial or low and well-managed risks, the firm stated.

“Institutional investors can mitigate water risks across their investment portfolio by identifying industries and business activities that depend on or greatly impact water resources, and by actively engaging with company management to improve transparency with regard to water-related strategy and risk management,” the company said in its announcement on Tuesday.

The new rating will help investors “identify and manage freshwater-related risks in portfolios, build freshwater-focused portfolios, funds and indices, through to supporting their water-related stewardship and engagement programs.”

For-profits ahead of non-profits on ESG

Survey finds for-profits on top for sustainability initiatives

For-profit companies place more importance on sustainability and diversity programs than non-profits, according to a recent survey by PNC.

Some 70% of for-profit business leaders said social responsibility across the board is a very high priority, compared with 59% of non-profit leaders, the survey found. Meanwhile, 23% of for profits said it was somewhat important, as did 32% of non-profits.

Of those that indicated that social responsibility was important, 32% of for profits said environmental sustainability was their top concern, followed by diversity, equity and inclusion (22%) and employee benefits (13%). Sustainability was also the most common top concern among non-profits, at 19%, ahead of ethical business practices (10%) and community development and outreach (10%).

For-profit groups were also more likely to have sustainability initiatives or programs than non-profits, at 79% versus 67%. Additionally, 76% of for profits indicted they have DEI programs, while 59% of non-profits said so.

PNC commissioned a survey in December of 120 for-profit executives and 120 non-profit leaders. Most of the entities had annual revenue of $50m or more, according to the report.