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Apple aiming to go all green in China manufacturing

Right now 87 percent of Apple's global operations run on renewable energy. But its goal is 100 percent and converting China manufacturers will be key to getting there.

Apple is seeing green as it looks to run its entire business on renewable energy in China.

Apple will work with its manufacturing partners in China to convert them renewable energy, the company announced on Monday. It didn't provide an exact time frame on the conversion, but acknowledged it will take time.

"We've set an example by greening our data centers, retail stores and corporate offices, and we're ready to start leading the way toward reducing carbon emissions from manufacturing," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. "This won't happen overnight -- in fact it will take years -- but it's important work that has to happen, and Apple is in a unique position to take the initiative toward this ambitious goal. It is a responsibility we accept. We are excited to work with leaders in our supply chain who want to be on the cutting edge of China's green transformation."

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Apple relies heavily on China-based manufacturers, including one of the world's largest, Foxconn. As Apple's star continues to rise in the technology space, those companies are producing more iPhones, computers, and other products, like Apple Watch, than ever. Meanwhile, many of them are running on power that is neither renewable nor good for the environment.

Foxconn, which also produces devices for Microsoft, HP, and countless others, has been one of the more vocal companies in China espousing greener technologies. Last year, for instance, the company announced that it would build a new complex in China's Guizhou that would provide energy efficiency and environmental friendliness. The industrial park, sitting on a 500-acre plot, will use wind, recycled steel, and other green technologies to reduce its carbon footprint. The complex will be home to production facilities on smartphones and other products.

This isn't the first time Apple has used its power as the world's largest technology company to make systemic changes among its manufacturing partners. The company launched a fair labor investigation to ensure workers at its production partners were treated fairly, and has stopped companies from using harmful chemicals during their production process. In nearly every case, Apple makes a demand and the production partners tend to fall in line without hesitation.

Apple is trying to lead by example. The company said on Monday that 87 percent of its current global operations are powered by renewable energy, and it plans to get to 100 percent at some point in the future.

According to Apple's own Environmental Responsibility page, 100 percent of its US operations run on renewable energy. All of Apple's data centers are running on renewable energy, as well.

Apple also announced Monday that it has partnered with the World Wildlife Fund "to increase responsibly managed forests across China." As part of that program, Apple will try to protect as much as 1 million acres of China's forests.

Monday's announcements comes just weeks after Apple launched a solar project in China to power the company's retail stores and China headquarters.