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HomeOpinionThis year, Apple’s biggest feature is aimed at Mother Nature

This year, Apple’s biggest feature is aimed at Mother Nature

Apple has always talked about how it is serious about environmental sustainability in whatever it does and this messaging has been a key part of keynotes over the years. But never before has the environment been such a big part of any Apple event.

A lot of time in this edition was dedicated to explain everything Apple has been doing on this front and to make sure everyone gets the message this time. So much so that the company showcased a light-veined video skit featuring CEO Tim Cook and VP Lisa Jackson with actor Octavia Spencer as Mother Earth to underline its efforts and goal of making all its products carbon neutral by 2030.

Clearly, Apple wanted to show that it was walking the talk and not just throwing a target in the distant future no one cared about. The amount of time it dedicated to the topic of environmental impact, often a footnote at tech events, seems to commiserate with the mind space the topic commands in Apple Park.

It is not rare for companies to talk about their green efforts, especially in the past few years. But it is usually centred around reducing waste, having a good recycling policy and finding ways to reuse recycled materials in new products. Apple pushed the envelope a little more this time.

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Its new Apple Watch Series 9 is completely carbon neutral, the first of its products to get this status. To achieve this status, 100 per cent clean electricity is used in manufacturing and product use, 30 per cent recycled or renewable material is incorporated by weight, and 50 per cent of shipping of the product will be done without the use of air transportation. “These combined efforts result in at least a 75 per cent reduction in product emissions for each model.”

Remember, its 2030 goal is to do this with all its products. Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, called it an “important milestone” and underlined that they will “keep innovating to meet the urgency of the moment”.

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And that sense of urgency was visible in a lot of other announcements too. Consider this list.

1. The Apple Watch Ultra, which was launched last year using virgin titanium uses recycled metal in its new version announced at the event.

2. Apple will not be using carbon-intensive leather in any of its products, including watch straps, anymore.

3. It is ushering in a new twill-like material with a suede feel called FineWoven made from 68 per cent “post-consumer recycled content”.

4. Accelerating its move towards the use of fully recycled metals in key components, the batteries of the iPhone 15, Apple Watch Series 9, and Apple Watch Ultra 2 will now have 100 per cent recycled cobalt.

5. In certain markets, customers upgrading to the new carbon-neutral Apple Watch models can trade in their old devices so that they can be recycled or refurbished. There are also some suggestions that it would do the same with old lightning cables that are being phased out with the introduction of USB-C in its new iPhones.

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6. As it moved towards its 2025 goal of plastic-free packaging, it announced that the Apple Watch and band lineup have 100 per cent fibre-based packaging, while packaging for iPhone 15 models is over 99 per cent fibre-based.

7. To cut down on its carbon footprint from transporting products around the world, it is shifting more product volumes to less carbon-intensive ocean or rail transport. At the moment, transportation accounts for 9 per cent of its carbon footprint.

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While tech companies don’t usually prefer their rival to follow them, this is one bit Apple would surely want its competitors to imitate. And, maybe because Apple has been talking about this for years now, large tech companies do make it a point now to talk about what they are doing to reduce the impact their products have on the environment. Now, be prepared for a stream to devices that have a zero carbon footprint like the Apple Watch Series 9.

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