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Apple’s latest launch: IGreen?

22 September, 2023

Unless you had your head in the sand, you’ll have heard about Apple’s new product launch. The iPhone 15 is not what caught our attention, however. Rather, it was the new line of Apple watches, which are being marketed as carbon neutral.

There is lots to commend. The new watches boast an impressive 75% reductions in lifecycle emissions compared to the 2015 model, as well as increased use of recycled materials for the internal workings of the watch. And it’s leaning into its reputation as a master communicator with an entertaining and informative short film that seeks to engage and educate on what it’s doing. That’s never an easy task, but they’ve nailed it with the Mother Nature short.

And yet, we can’t help wondering whether branding the new watches ‘carbon neutral’ is a misstep. Apple is committing to ensure that by 2030 all devices will have a net zero climate impact, and that’s a big claim. And yet that’s overshadowed by its use of carbon neutral –  it’s a phrase that comes with a lot of baggage these days, and new EU regulations may even ban the use of this phrase. Why didn’t the great communicating brand think a little harder now, rather create the need to rebrand its products later?

Furthermore, it turns out Apple has been making its phones increasingly difficult to repair in non-Apple repair shops, which are always much cheaper than repairs in Apple stores, thus nudging consumers towards buying new phones rather than replacing parts in older phones when they fail. So while Apple’s watches are moving in a more sustainable direction, with the promise of more to come, any halo from this is being tarnished by some less than sustainable behaviour in its other products.

All in all, we really do want to commend Apple, which took a while to get out of the starting blocks where sustainability is concerned. That said, while it’s encouraging to see such a great communicator finally embrace sustainability, it’s not a perfect A for Apple on the sustainability scorecard just yet.

By Marie Guérinet

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