Google Makes New Sustainability Commitment, Pledges Carbon Neutrality by 2020

Tech giant Google has revised its sustainability commitments and has announced that it plans to go carbon neutral by 2020.

Google, which entered the smart home products market three years ago, has plans to make its products and hardware greener. In a blog post, the company outlined its goals to reduce the environmental impact that its products create.

The company says that it has adopted a set of hardware and services sustainability commitments:

  • By 2020, 100 percent of all Google shipments going to or from customers will be carbon neutral
  • Starting in 2022, 100 percent of ‘Made by Google’ products will include recycled materials with a drive to maximize recycled content wherever possible
  • And the company will make technology that puts people first and expands access to the benefits of technology.

The company added that since 2018, it has begun publishing product environmental reports, which help understand the products are made of, how they’re built and how they get shipped. And from 2017 to 2018, Google has been able to cut carbon emissions from product shipments by 40 percent. Google reportedly has also launched Power Project, which will bring one million energy- and money-saving Nest thermostats to families in need by 2023, made from post-consumer recycled plastic.

Though commendable, the pledges do lack clarity as the word carbon-neutral used does not entail any strategy that the company has or plans to adopt. Another term ‘recycled material’ used in its commitments does not specify which materials Google is looking to recycle. This could range from plastic, metals or other resources used in the manufacture of its products.

However, with this commitment, it has joined a long list of companies that have pledged environment goals. Just about every tech giant like Apple, Amazon or Samsung have been vocal about outlining environmentally friendly strategies.

But these pledges are self-guided and lack transparency. A company may or may not publish its efforts or progress which leaves little to no space for accountability. We remain hopeful that other tech companies will realise the inherent flaws that these pledges bring and may come up with a robust monitoring system that can guide the transition with some tough love.

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