Apple is spending millions to clean up China's environment

Watch the full exclusive interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook
Watch the full exclusive interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple is charging up its renewable energy credentials in China.

The iPhone maker said Thursday that it was launching a $300 million fund that will identify and invest in clean energy projects in the world's second biggest economy.

Apple (AAPL) is partnering with 10 of its global suppliers for the fund, whose investments aim to generate enough renewable energy to power the equivalent of nearly one million homes in China.

China's transformation into an economic powerhouse in recent decades has taken a toll on the country's environment and its people's health. Cracking down on pollution has become a priority for authorities, even if it crimps the country's economic growth.

Environmental group Greenpeace has warned that electronics manufacturing uses a lot of energy in China and draws on polluting coal power stations.

Related: Apple is now completely powered by clean energy

Apple's announcement of the new China fund is its latest move that's likely to play well with the Chinese government. CEO Tim Cook frequently visits the country, and the company is setting up research and development centers there.

Many Apple products are made in China and then shipped around the world. The country also accounts for around 20% of the firm's sales.

Now, the company finds itself at risk of getting caught up in the escalating trade clash between Washington and Beijing.

Apple and other big tech firms have touted their commitments to clean energy sources in recent years.

Apple clean energy fun
This facility in Sichuan province, China, contributes to Apple's 100% clean energy profile.

In April, Apple announced that all of its retail stores, data centers and corporate offices now run on 100% clean energy. More than 20 of its suppliers have also pledged to power their production for Apple from only clean energy sources, according to the company.

Related: Microsoft is buying solar energy from Singapore rooftops

Apple has invested in China's wind and solar energy industries in the past. But the new fund is separate from the company's previous renewable energy initiatives in the country.

The big component suppliers that Apple is working with on the fund include Taiwan's Pegatron and Wistron. Deutsche Bank (DB) will manage the fund and also invest in it.

Yuan Ying, climate and energy campaign manager at Greenpeace East Asia, said that Apple had shown leadership in promoting renewable energy sources in China, but could still do more.

"Apple and its suppliers show how corporations can do their part to contribute to China's energy transition," she said. "We would like to see local Chinese tech giants follow suit."

Yuan added that Apple could take further steps to reduce environmental waste in China through measures like lengthening the lifespan of its products.

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