During the first week of August, Alphabet Inc’s Google announced a plan to neutralize carbon emissions from consumer hardware delivery at some point next year. This includes using recycle plastic products as often as possible in their products by the year 2022.
This is a new commitment, of course, which signals quite the step up in competition between technology companies at a time when both consumers and governments want to lessen their so-called “carbon footprint” without, necessarily, having to reduce the number of gadgets they own.
Google head of devices and services, Anna Meegan, said their transport-related carbon emissions per unit fell 40 percent, last year, compared to carbon emissions of 2017. She details they were able to manage this because they relied more on ships instead of planes to distribute their phones, laptops, speakers, and other tech gadgets from their factories to consumers all over the world.
It should be noted, however, that Google has also explained they will offset its remaining emissions through the purchase of carbon credits.
Now, Google has already been working on implementing this strategy, in a way. Many engineers have, organically, been looking for ways to move in this direction. Some have even initiated tests for quality and safety and reliability. Others have simply been experimenting around the lab to figure out the best ways to utilize recycled plastics.
In fact, Google’s chief operating officer of hardware, Ana Corrales, explains, “You have to really tinker in the lab for a while to make it work. But rather than engineers being worried about that, because they have a timeline that they need to get a product out, I think it’s something that’s quite motivating to them.”
Another thing that may be motivating to them is Apple’s use of recycled materials like aluminum, plastic, and tin; particularly in regards to a custom-built robot that is able to disassemble iPhones and send materials back to the company’s own supply chain. Cobalt recovered from old iPhone batteries, for one, can be gathered in this way and then reused to make new Apple batteries (for other gadgets).