Apple’s Vision for Eco-Friendly Timepieces: A Shift Towards Sustainable Watches

by Barbara Wilson

CUPERTINO, California, Sept 12 (Reuters) – Apple (AAPL.O) announced on Tuesday that it will offer three of its Apple Watch models in carbon-neutral versions, marked with a fresh green logo on their packaging. This eco-friendly initiative is a result of Apple’s commitment to renewable energy in manufacturing and a reduction in emissions associated with transportation.


Apple has set a goal to achieve carbon neutrality across its entire operation, including its supply chain, by 2030. The primary reduction in emissions for these new watches comes from the use of clean energy during their production.


Apple disclosed that 300 of its suppliers have now pledged to transition to clean energy in their manufacturing processes, addressing a significant source of emissions in Apple Watch production.


Another noteworthy emissions source was Apple’s extensive transportation network, heavily reliant on air travel. Apple pioneered the use of planes for the rapid shipment of consumer electronics from Chinese factories to global destinations, a strategy that minimized inventory and boosted profitability.


For the three new watch models, Apple is shifting half of the shipments by weight, from factory to regional distribution centers, to more sustainable modes of transportation such as boats and trains. These alternatives consume less fuel and generate fewer carbon emissions, contributing to the company’s commitment to combat climate change.

Executives at Apple explained that shipments by boat result in only 1/20th of the emissions compared to air transport, a significant environmental gain highlighted during the product launch event on Tuesday.

The Apple Watch Series 9, Apple Watch SE, and Apple Watch Ultra 2, distinguished by their green labeling, will have lower emissions compared to previous Apple Watch models. To offset the remaining emissions, Apple will purchase carbon credits, as stated by Lisa Jackson, the head of the company’s environmental and governance efforts.

Jackson emphasized, “We could in theory do that (buy offsets) tomorrow, and everything would be carbon neutral, but we wanted to be really clear that we’re taking action on everything we know how to do to reduce (emissions) with existing technology.”

Previously, Apple revealed that a Series 8 watch generated 33 kg (73 lb) of carbon emissions, spanning from raw materials to customer delivery.

The new environmentally conscious aluminum Series 9 with a sport loop band will leave just 8.1 kg (18 lb) of emissions unaddressed after Apple’s sustainability measures, which the company will compensate for by acquiring carbon credits. In comparison, the standard stainless steel version of the Series 9 with the same band accounted for 29 kg (64 lb) of emissions.

Apple has been committed to reducing carbon emissions for some time. All of their new watches, including standard editions, utilize custom aluminum and titanium alloys crafted from recycled materials. Moreover, the batteries in these watches exclusively contain recycled cobalt, a mineral with both climate and human rights concerns associated with its mining.

John Ternus, Apple’s hardware engineering chief, affirmed that this approach will expand to more of Apple’s products in the future, stating, “We’re absolutely planning to roll that out across” more of Apple’s products in the future. He added that Apple is often the first to engage with suppliers regarding these recycled material supply chains.

The eco-labeled watches will maintain the same pricing as their standard counterparts. While executives refrained from direct comments on whether they would be less profitable, Lisa Jackson emphasized that Apple’s focus is on implementing changes that can be embraced by other businesses, fostering a sustainable future. She noted, “In order to make this replicable, it couldn’t be a premium because most businesses are willing to make the change, but they need to still be able to be in business, make money and pay their workers and buy materials.”


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