According to Fast Company, Google is embarking on a mission to make its products more environmentally-friendly.
More specifically, the tech giant is veering from using virgin plastics in its products, and plans on making all its products with recycled materials by 2022. Similarly, Google also recently announced that all of its product shipments will be carbon neutral by 2020. Both pledges are also challenging the company to think about how to make its products last as long as possible, easy to disassemble at the end of their lives, and use the most sustainable materials, Fast Company says.
“Some people think design is about making things look pretty or look good,” Ivy Ross, who heads Google’s hardware design team, told Fast Company. “And really design is about solving problems for humanity.”
In order for Google to go ahead with making its products more sustainable, each decision has to go through detailed analysis and go through multiple steps such as:
- Materials need to meet a lengthy list of specs
- Match exact color on devices to test durability and heat exposure
- Materials cost and manufacturability
Similarly, as Google works to offset emissions used to ship products, it’s working to cut those emissions, too. For example, the tech giant was able to reduce shipping emissions by 40 percent when it shifted from air shipments to cargo ships.
All in this together
While Google is taking steps to “build its ‘sustainability muscle,’” other tech companies are already implementing more sustainable practices. For example, Fast Company says that Apple uses recycled plastic, aluminum and tin for some of its products, including for a custom robot that that disassembles iPhones and send the taken-apart materials back onto its supply chain. Apple also uses the cobalt from old iPhone batteries to make new ones.
As a result, it’s likely that decision makers will continue to see tech companies prioritizing sustainability practices in their supply chains and overall company culture. Examples like Google and Apple can be used by decision makers to decide what to do – and what not to do – when it comes to implementing their own methods of sustainability, and what steps are entailed.
For instance, even though Google was able to reduce its shipping emissions, changes had to be made across the company’s production processes, especially since shipments would now take longer to arrive. Even still, the company’s commitment to sustainability out-weighed the wait time. “We are looking at this opportunity as a perfect time for us to make a stand and bring something to what we believe customers want in the marketplace,” Anna Meegan, Google’s head of sustainability for hardware, told Fast Company. “It aligns to our broader company culture around thinking about the big unsolved problems of our time. So this is something that we feel is the right thing to do.”