Apple’s carbon neutral claims scrutinized by EU consumer groups

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Apple is facing scrutiny from European environmental and consumer groups over its claims that its latest devices are “carbon neutral.” The term “carbon neutral” is set to be banned by the European Union in corporate marketing because it is considered to be “misleading.”

Apple’s decision to rely on carbon credits to offset the emissions from its latest Apple Watch models has prompted a sharp reaction from consumer groups. Monique Goyens, the director-general of the European consumer organization BEUC, told the Financial Times that “carbon neutral claims are scientifically inaccurate and mislead consumers.”

Climate campaigners have also questioned whether tracking carbon emissions provides a thorough assessment of the environmental impact of small electronic devices such as smartwatches and wireless earbuds, which can be difficult to repair and often end up as e-waste. Independent non-profit climate change organizations also question the quality of the carbon credits purchased by Apple. Critics have cast doubt on these plans, arguing that the trees planted to offset emissions are often chopped down and sold as timber in little more than a decade.

Apple has defended its record, saying that its approach to decarbonizing products offers a rigorous blueprint for how businesses can do their part. The company has also cut up to 81 percent of emissions linked to the Watch compared with a 2015 baseline and has promised to cut 90 percent of group-level emissions from that baseline by 2050.

Apple’s claims about using 100 percent clean electricity for manufacturing have been disputed by NewClimate Institute, a non-profit organization. NewClimate Institute says that Apple’s “assertion” that it only used clean electricity for manufacturing is “highly contentious, since Apple’s major suppliers continue to have very low renewable electricity shares.”

The sources for this piece include an article in ArsTechnica.


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