In an attempt to keep up with customer demands and industry competitors, Google announced a loose plan to reach carbon neutral shipping and incorporate more recycled plastics into their Made by Google products. These gadgets include Pixel phones and Pixelbooks as well as Google Home speakers, phone cases and charging devices.

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Google did not give a specific timeline for carbon neutral delivery but plans to increase their use of cargo ships instead of air vessels. The company committed to include recycled plastic in 100 percent of their devices by 2022.

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Apple and Samsung are out-competing Google for sustainability pledges. Apple, for example, has at least 50% recycled plastic in some of their gadgets and at least 11 products with recycled aluminum. Samsung also recently pledged to increase their use of sustainable packaging.

According to Anna Meegan, head of sustainability for Google, the company’s transportation-related carbon emissions decreased by 40% between 2017 and 2018. Google also promised to purchase carbon offsets for the emissions that they will not be able to reduce through strategies such as using more ships.

“We are fundamentally looking to build sustainability into everything we do. It’s going to take us time to demonstrate progress,” said Meegan.

Since cargo ships take longer than planes, Google will need to find ways to streamline their development and production processes so they do not lose customers due to longer wait times.

Currently, only a third of all google products with public material disclosures contain recycled plastic. For example, Google Home speakers contain approximately 20 to 40% recycled plastic in their casing.

Google also has a Recycling Partnership program where they provide a free shipping label to previous customers who have devices they no longer use. Google is able to collect and recycle components of the devices for future gadgets. Interested customers can check out the Partnership information here.


Image via Andres Urena