Google launches phones and thermostats with recycled plastics

The Google Nest Thermostats (pictured) now contain 75% recycled plastics.

Last year, the tech giant pledged to incorporate recycled plastics content into all of its hardware lines by 2022. Its range also includes smart speakers, tablets, phone cases and charging stands.

It unveiled the designs for its new Pixel and Nest range this week, confirming that all new products are designed with recycled materials. All Nest thermostats include 75% recycled plastics from post-consumer feedstocks, with the proportion standing at 70% for the new Nest Audio.

The proportion and origin of recycled plastic content for the new Pixel 5 smartphone has not been disclosed. However, Google claims it is the first phone to be manufactured with 100% recycled aluminium. The company said that recycled aluminium’s carbon footprint if 35% lower than virgin aluminium.  

Google also firmed up its commitment on recycled materials, pledging that 50% of the plastic used across hardware products will be recycled or renewable (i.e. bio-based) by 2025. As for packaging, the company is targeting a 100% plastic-free, recyclable portfolio by 2025.

“Google’s focus on incorporating recycled materials in our hardware design not only supports our sustainability commitments, but also enables our supply chain partners to confidently invest in and develop these types of materials so that the wider consumer electronics industry can use them too,” Google’s sustainability systems architect David Bourne said.

The firm is also targeting carbon-neutral hardware deliveries and zero-waste-to-landfill status across its operations.

Ellen MacArthur Foundation

The announcement from Google comes a year after it joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative.

Launched in 2018, the initiative aims to create a “new normal” for plastic packaging by eliminating single-use packaging materials, increasing the amount of reused or recycled plastics in new products and innovate to ensure 100% of plastic packaging can be reused, recycled, or composted by 2025.

Google’s own targets reflect this vision. Beyond its own operations, the business is providing tech, in-person training and advice and financing to the Foundation.

The Foundation is due to publish its second annual progress report on the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment later this month. Last year’s report revealed the full plastic footprint of some of the world’s biggest food, beverage and consumer goods businesses for the first time.

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Sarah George

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