Dezeen Magazine

Apple unveils new smartwatches as "first carbon-neutral products"

Apple has released an updated lineup of Apple Watches, which the technology company claims will be its first carbon-neutral products, marking a "key milestone" in its mission to reach net zero emissions by 2030.

The Apple Watch Series 9, Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Apple Watch SE will be carbon neutral when combining "select" cases and wristbands, the company has announced. The carbon-neutral claims will be denoted by a new logo on the box.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 when paired with the new Trail Loop is carbon neutral
A new roster of Apple Watches will be carbon neutral

By introducing recycled materials, slashing air transport and switching suppliers to renewable energy, Apple says it was able to reduce the products' footprint by 75 per cent compared to its first smartwatch from 2015.

The remaining 25 per cent of emissions, which the company claims "cannot yet be avoided or reduced with existing solutions", will instead be offset using carbon credits.

The release forms part of the company's wider goal to make all of its products carbon neutral by the end of the decade while becoming net zero as a company.

Box for new carbon-neutral Apple Watches
They are distinguished by a new green logo on the box

"This year, we hit a key milestone toward our Apple 2030 goal," said Apple's vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives Lisa Jackson.

"Our first carbon neutral products were made in a uniquely Apple way, steeply reducing carbon emissions from materials, electricity, and transportation through innovation and design."

However, some critics have argued that focusing on these smaller wins is a "red herring", designed to distract from the company's wider climate impact.

Display of recycled metals
The watches use recycled rare earth magnets and recycled cobalt for the batteries

Most of the emissions generated over the lifecycle of Apple's products come from the energy required to manufacture and charge the devices.

By pushing suppliers to invest in renewables, the company says it was able to ensure that all components for its "first carbon-neutral products" are made using only green energy.

Apple has also calculated how much electricity will be needed to charge each watch over the course of its life and will counter this by investing in large-scale solar and wind projects that will generate an equivalent amount of renewable energy.

Each of the watches is made from at least 30 per cent recycled or renewable materials by weight.

This includes recycled rare earth magnets, a 100 per cent recycled aluminium case for the Series 9, and a battery made using exclusively recycled cobalt for the Series 9 and Ultra 2.

Buyers can add updated Sport Loop wristbands made from 82 per cent recycled yarn and leather-alternative bands made from a "suede-like" recycled micro-twill that has "significantly lower" emissions than animal hide, Apple claims.

Leather alternative iphone case
Apple is also bringing in new faux leather accessories

The company has also committed itself to shipping 50 per cent of the watches by weight without relying on air freight, seeking out less emissions-intensive methods like trains and container ships instead.

As a result, transport emissions for the watches were cut nearly in half, while the packaging for the Apple Watch Series 9 and SE was redesigned to be more compact, squeezing 25 per cent more devices into each shipment.

To compensate for the remaining emissions, Apple has said it will invest in "high-quality carbon credits" from nature-based projects such as helping to restore forests in Paraguay and Brazil.

Apple Watch with grid forecast app
The Sport Loop band has been redesigned with 82 per cent recycled yarn

Another area where Apple is working to drive down emissions is its stores, where the company has started rolling out a new set of bio-based fixtures and fittings including a timber framework for walls and room dividers.

All images are courtesy of Apple.