Tech giant Apple debuted its first "carbon neutral" products Tuesday, revealing how a raft of technical innovations mean the new lineup of its popular Apple Watch will deliver a 75 percent reduction in emissions compared to previous models.
The company said the remaining emissions associated with the product would be offset using "high-quality" carbon credits primarily sourced from nature-based projects that remove carbon from the atmosphere, such as initiatives to restore grasslands, wetlands and forests.
Lisa Jackson, vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives at Apple, hailed the product launch as "an important milestone" on the journey toward the company's goal of only selling "carbon neutral" products by 2030.
"At Apple, we have a longstanding and proven commitment to leading the fight against climate change," she said. "Our focus on renewable energy and low-carbon design has already driven industry-leading emissions reductions, and we're not slowing down. We've achieved an important milestone in making the world's most popular watch carbon neutral — and we will keep innovating to meet the urgency of the moment."
The company said that in order to slash emissions from the production of the watch it had sourced 100 percent clean electricity for both manufacturing and product use, sourced 30 percent recycled or renewable material by weight and ensured 50 percent of shipping was delivered without the use of air transportation.
It added that the resulting 75 percent reduction in emissions had been certified by SCS Global Services, a specialist in environmental standards and certification.
The launch came as Apple also announced it was ending the use of leather across all its product lines, including iPhone accessories and Apple Watch bands. The company said it would replace leather with a new textile called FineWoven, which is made from 68 percent post-consumer recycled content and boasts "significantly lower emissions compared to more carbon-intensive leather."
In addition, the new Apple Watch has become the first Apple product to use 100 percent fiber-based packaging.
Residual emissions are set to be tackled through investment in a series of "high quality" carbon removal projects.
The use of carbon offset credits to justify claims of product "carbon neutrality" remain controversial in some quarters, but Apple insisted that it had put in place robust standards to ensure the projects it funds deliver promised carbon removals.
"Apple defines high-quality credits as those from projects that are real, additional, measurable, and quantified, with systems in place to avoid double-counting, and that ensure permanence," it said. "Apple has helped advance natural carbon-removal solutions that meet this definition by creating the innovative Restore Fund, which currently supports projects in Latin America. The company uses credits from projects that are certified to international standards such as Verra; the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Standards; and the Forest Stewardship Council."
Separately, the company Tuesday also launched a new tool in its Home app called Grid Forecast, which will provide users of Apple devices with data on when their electrical grid has relatively cleaner or less clean energy sources available.