If you’re into tracking the waves of innovation, you know we’re elbow deep in the AI, robotics, automation, and drone wave. What you may not know is that many scholars are also lumping sustainability into this wave. Acknowledging that sustainability has a place in this conversation is a big step forward. For too long, the hardware that users and developers depend on to make lives easier, healthier, and more prosperous has ended up wasting away in landfills or things like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch drifting around the Pacific Ocean. That’s to say nothing of the greenhouse gasses that result from various manufacturing processes and the energy generation needed to power datacenters and AI. And that’s why we’re so excited about the steps companies that developers rely on – like Google and Apple – are taking to be greener.
Google recently unveiled its Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. Make no mistake: the phones are pretty rad, but what Google is doing to reduce its environmental footprint is even cooler. Notably, both phones will be shipped in plastic-free packaging. What’s more, Google will offer seven years of support for the phones. Both of these seemingly small steps will pay enormous dividends. First, less plastic packaging means fewer one-and-done plastic pieces that just end up in landfills (or a giant floating plastic island). Second, longer support periods will mean users will hold on to their phones longer. Both decisions are sustainability wins.
For its part, Apple is well on its way to achieving its Apple 2030 goals to cut emissions and making investments in natural products. Back in September, Apple announced its first-ever carbon neutral products in the Apple Watch Series 9. The new watch series is manufactured with clean electricity, with over 30 percent of recycled materials, and shipped more than half the time without airplanes. Apple also announced it was ending the use of leather in all of its products (cow farts – ‘nuff said). These efforts are major steps forward to reducing greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.
Google and Apple are leading examples of what tech sector environmental stewardship can look like. With each passing day, our lives depend more and more on hardware like phones, tablets, watches, and more. Manufacturing these products can produce unnecessary waste and harmful emissions. Recognizing that they had a key role to play, Google and Apple have stepped up to the plate to ensure the world they are leaving behind is cleaner than ever before. We applaud both companies for the work they are carrying out and encourage others to do what they can to take similar actions. Even the smallest commitments can create enormous rewards.