Apple, the tech giant is launching its first carbon-neutral Watch and iPhone Series with recycled materials to achieve their goal by 2030.
The Apple product launch event is a significant event on the calendar for those involved in the digital technology sector. On September 12th, Apple unveiled its latest offerings, including the iPhone 15 series, the ninth Apple Watch series, and the second iteration of the Apple Watch Ultra at its headquarters in California.
Apple has proudly announced that its new Apple Watch lineup is entirely carbon-neutral. This achievement is the result of extensive efforts to reduce emissions throughout the watches’ lifecycle since 2015. These efforts have included investments in clean energy procurement, energy efficiency improvements, and emissions reduction in transportation. Notably, product redesign and supply chain improvements have also played a vital role in reducing emissions.
What is new?
Each of the watches now incorporates at least 30% recycled or renewable materials by weight, such as a casing made from 100% recycled aluminum and a battery containing 100% recycled cobalt.
It’s worth mentioning that Apple’s carbon-neutral claim encompasses the entire lifecycle of its products, including their use by consumers. In their statement, Apple pledged to match 100% of customers’ expected electricity use for charging the carbon-neutral Apple Watch models.
To address the remaining 25% of emissions associated with the watches, Apple plans to invest in carbon credits, primarily from nature-based projects. They are committed to ensuring the quality of these credits by verifying their additional, measurable, quantified, and permanent carbon removal, while also avoiding double-counting.
Apple had already achieved carbon neutrality for its global corporate operations in 2020 and committed to achieving a carbon-neutral value chain by 2030. This ambitious goal aims to reduce emissions both upstream and downstream by at least 75% compared to 2015 levels, with offsetting used for a maximum of 25% of remaining emissions. Achieving this will require significant investments in decarbonizing electricity grids, innovating low-carbon transport solutions, redesigning products, and using innovative materials.
In terms of product design, Apple is working towards using 100% recycled cobalt in batteries, 100% recycled tin soldering, and gold plating in circuit boards by 2025. They are also discontinuing the use of leather across all product lines and adopting a new ‘FineWoven’ textile made from 68% post-consumer recycled fibers.
Despite a forthcoming crackdown on such claims in the EU, Apple continues to use the language of carbon neutrality. In May, lawmakers voted to support a new directive that will prevent companies from labeling consumer goods as ‘carbon-neutral’ or ‘carbon-negative’ if they rely on offsetting. The future communication of Apple’s climate efforts in the EU remains uncertain once this directive comes into force.
Another sustainability-related aspect of Apple’s latest product launch is the transition from the Apple-exclusive ‘lightning’ charging port to a USB-C port for the iPhone 15. This change is driven by the EU’s mandate that all electronic devices sold within the bloc from 2024 must use USB-C charging to reduce e-waste caused by multiple charger types. While it leads to long-term waste reduction, there are concerns about a rise in discarded Apple ‘lightning’ cables. The reason is a significant portion of European residents own an iPhone.
Apple’s inaugural carbon-neutral product, the Apple Watch represents a significant achievement in their mission to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. The brand understands that the urgency of environmental preservation demands immediate action, and they are determined not to delay, as the Earth itself does not wait, and neither shall they.
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