Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has cleaned up its act, so to speak, and environmentally conscious money managers are sitting up and taking notice. Apple stock has quickly become a favorite of green mutual funds, thanks to the company’s efforts to improve its score on the environmental report card.

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Apple stock becomes some funds’ top holding

According to Reuters, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has become one of several environmentally-focused mutual funds’ top holdings. Of course Apple stock makes money, so that’s a big help too. The company’s stock has climbed 15% so far this year and ranks 19th in terms of gains among the S&P 100 index. Data from Reuters indicates that Apple stock is the top holding of several major funds, including Parnassus, the Green Century Balanced Fund and the Calvert Equity Portfolio. Apple is also the Pax World Balanced Fund’s third-biggest holding.

Anthony Tursich, who manages the Portfolio 21 Global Equity Fund, bought Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) in 2011 after it started to publish more data about emissions. He told Reuters that he only bought Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG) after it progressed in its renewable energy initiatives.

Tracking green mutual funds

Thomson Reuters’ Lipper unit tracks 72 different funds that use environmental criteria when making decisions about their investments. Lipper reported that for the 12 months that ended on April 30, investors placed $1.9 billion in new money into those funds. Although this is just a small fraction of all U.S. equity funds, it’s a 5% inflow, which Lipper chief Tom Roseen said was “significant.”

According to Lipper, more than $1 billion, which was most of the new money, went into the Parnassus Core Equity Fund.

Apple cleans up its act

Managers of environmentally-focused funds say they have a few reasons for becoming interested in Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). The company has made its practices more environmentally friendly, thus earning higher scores from eco-conscious organizations like Greenpeace. Apple has set a number of new policies in place like more recycling of products and the use of solar energy to power its massive data farms. CEO Tim Cook said at one of the company’s recent shareholder meetings that investors who are more interested about return on investment than the environment should sell out of Apple stock.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has also made a number of key hires to improve its green initiatives, including former Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa Jackson. Also former Vice President Al Gore, known as an advocate for the environment, sits on Apple’s board.

Apple’s scores could improve

However, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) still has a ways to go in environmental initiatives, according to green organizations. Advocacy group Ceres gave the company a 4 on its carbon footprint, which is the lowest score. A spokesperson said the company hadn’t released enough details to earn a better score as of last fall, but that could change because Apple has been taking steps since that last report.

Also Greenpeace has criticized Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) in the past for not moving fast enough in removing hazardous materials from its products. However, this year the organization said Apple is pulling ahead in the use of sustainable energy.