A large Google sign seen on a window of Google's headquarters.

Enlarge / Mountain View, Calif.—May 21, 2018: Exterior view of a Googleplex building, the corporate headquarters of Google and parent company Alphabet. (credit: Getty Images | zphotos)

Google says it is embarking on new plans to make its hardware greener. Anna Meegan, head of sustainability for consumer hardware at Google, wrote a blog post outlining the company’s goals for improving the environmental impact made by its devices.

Google’s sustainability commitments include making 100% of shipments to or from customers carbon neutral by 2020 and including recycled materials in 100% of Made by Google products starting in 2022. The industry giant also wants to maximize the amount of recycled content wherever possible. The final commitment is a more-general statement that Google “will make technology that puts people first and expands access to the benefits of technology.”

The statement about recycled materials is a positive one, although its language is vague. Using recycled plastic in a smartphone doesn’t necessarily make a huge difference when there’s so little plastic in the device to start with. A broad promise about making an effort “wherever possible” can cover a whole range of outcomes. The specific wording about the carbon neutrality of Google’s shipments makes for a clearer metric of how successful the company is in meeting its goal.

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