google home devices

Google promises carbon-neutral hardware and recycled materials in its devices

Image credit: Dreamstime

Google has announced that all shipments to customers will be carbon neutral from next year and it will include recycled materials in all its products from 2022.

In a blog post, Anna Meegan, the search giant’s head of sustainability, acknowledged that its products take a lot of resources to build and their disposal can also create “significant waste”.

She said Google would start “designing in sustainability” from the start of the product development process.

The new commitments step up the competition among tech companies aiming to show consumers and governments that they are curbing the environmental toll from their widening arrays of gadgets.

It also follows a drive to power all of Google’s services with renewable energy which the company said it achieved in 2018 by buying up power from wind and solar farms. 

Meegan added that between 2017 and 2018 carbon emissions for product shipments decreased by 40 per cent and that it will ship one million Nest thermostats to “families in need” by 2023 as part of its Power Project which is designed to reduce energy usage from heating.

The company will offset remaining emissions by purchasing carbon credits, Meegan said in an interview.

Carbon credits effectively allow companies to offset their emissions by paying for projects designed to reduce carbon elsewhere. However, a European Commission report from 2016 cast doubt on the effectiveness of carbon credits as it found most projects funded by such schemes would have been built anyway.

Three out of nine Google products for which the company has detailed disclosures online contain recycled plastic, ranging from 20 per cent to 42 per cent in the casings for its Google Home speakers and Chromecast streaming dongles.

Meegan acknowledged that Google’s 3-year-old hardware business trails far larger hardware rival Apple in some sustainability efforts. When it comes to global smartphone shipments, Google doesn’t even make the top 10 companies.

Apple has at least 50 per cent recycled plastic in some parts of several products, recycled tin in at least 11 products and recycled aluminium in at least two. Apple is also striving to make all its suppliers use 100 per cent renewable energy during the manufacturing process. 

“We are fundamentally looking to build sustainability into everything we do,” Meegan said. “It’s going to take us time to demonstrate progress.”

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

Recent articles