Google Reveals Sustainability Initiatives During Launch of New Products

Search giant invested $150 million into a fund for energy projects

an array of new google hardware products
The Nest Mini is made up of 35% recycled plastic. Google
Headshot of Ann-Marie Alcántara

Sustainability shared the spotlight with Google’s major hardware announcements at the search giant’s annual new product event, Made By Google.

The company, which first announced its sustainability efforts in August, highlighted its work today in New York City while revealing its latest products.

The company revealed how it’s using recycled materials in its products and has committed to lowering its carbon footprint. Google has also contributed $150 million into a $1.5 billion investment fund for renewable energy projects in markets where its products are manufactured.

“As a young hardware team, we’ve had this amazing opportunity to rethink everything and start from the start to think, ‘What would it be like to truly integrate design and sustainability?’” Anna Meegan, head of sustainability for Google hardware, told Adweek.

Google joins the growing movement among tech companies that have made climate-related pledges. Earlier in September, Amazon announced various goals such as reaching 80% renewable energy by 2024 and a sustainability website to track its efforts.

Apple has led efforts around sustainability for a number of years, including appointing Lisa Jackson, former EPA administrator under President Obama, as the brand’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives. Apple won a 2019 climate action award from the United Nations in September, and last year revealed that all of its buildings across the world were powered by 100% renewable energy.

Part of Google’s sustainability efforts dates back to August, when the company detailed some of its commitments like having 100% of all shipments becoming carbon neutral by 2020, and that starting in 2022, 100% of Google products will incorporate recycled materials. As it stands now, Meegan said all of the Nest products—including the new Nest Mini, Nest Wifi Point and Router items—were made with recycled materials.

The Nest Mini’s fabric was created out of a single half-liter plastic bottle, which creates enough textiles for two Nest Minis. Meegan shared that, in fact, 35% of the Next Mini is made of recycled plastic, as well as between 40% and 45% of the Nest WiFi.

“We’re really trying to say recycled materials matter,” Meegan said.

At the event, Ivy Ross, vice president of hardware design at Google, announced the company had reached 100% carbon neutral shipping last month, meaning that Google is paying for the carbon offset on every device shipped. Other sustainability efforts include changing its shipping methods, such as switching from air travel to ships or trains.

The $150 million investment, according to Meegan, will “basically offset the energy used to manufacture our products.” Google also has a recycling program for its products and a refurbished store.

“Our vision is to make sure it becomes super easy to recycle a product at the end of its life,” Meegan said.

@itstheannmarie Ann-Marie Alcántara is a tech reporter for Adweek, focusing on direct-to-consumer brands and ecommerce.