Google making new commitment to sustainable design

The company pledges recycled plastic in all devices by 2022, carbon-neutral shipping by 2020

Alphabet’s Google on Monday announced that it would neutralize carbon emissions from delivering consumer hardware by next year and include recycled plastic in each of its products later on. 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.

According to a blog post, Google said that it plans to introduce some recycled plastic to 100% of products by 2022. That means that in three years (or even less), all of the Nest devices, Pixel phones, laptops, smart speakers and accessories will be made from recycled materials. Sustainability standards are already a part of Google’s hardware planning. Devices cannot clear the second checkpoint in the company’s design process unless they show that sustainable packaging and materials and ease of repair have been considered. But so far, only three out of nine Google products for which the company has detailed disclosures online, contain recycled plastic, ranging from 20% to 42% in the casings for its Google Home speakers and Chromecast streaming dongles.

Besides using recycled materials, the company also pledged that all of its shipments will become carbon neutral within two years. One of the ways to achieve this goal is to switch from air shipments to cargo. In a recent interview with Fast Company, the company’s head of sustainability for hardware, Anna Meegan, said switching to ships reduced by 40% the company’s transport-related carbon emissions compared to 2017.

The company will now offset remaining emissions by purchasing carbon credits, Meegan said.

This also brings its own set of challenges, given that cargo takes more time, so the company needs to plan its shipments better. The company also reminded everyone of its recycling partnership program which is, at the moment, limited to the US.

Google is hardly the only company that’s looking to reduce its environmental footprint. Apple has been doing a lot on that front for years now, including using renewable energy sources and recycled materials for hardware. Samsung has also pledged a similar thing earlier this year, promising to use sustainable materials in its product packaging.

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