European Consumer Organization Challenges Apple’s Carbon Neutral Claim In Latest Apple Watches

Apple’s Carbon Neutral Announcements

At last month’s event, Apple introduced the Series 9 and Ultra 2 Apple Watches, touting them as carbon-neutral products. However, this claim was quickly refuted as “bogus” by the European consumer group, BEUC, following a proposal by the European Union to outlaw carbon-neutral claims based on offsetting credits.

Detailing Carbon Neutrality Claims

In the press release for the Apple Watch Series 9, the phrase “carbon neutral” was prominently used 24 times, marking a first where customers could opt for a carbon neutral variant of any Apple Watch. Lisa Jackson, Apple’s VP of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, emphasized the achievement of Apple’s 2030 goal, attributing carbon neutrality to reductions in emissions from materials, electricity, and transportation.

Offsetting Credits Explained

The release later revealed that the carbon-neutral claim was tied to the utilization of offsetting credits to balance the residual emissions from the three major greenhouse gas sources. The remaining emissions, ranging between 7 kg and 12 kg per watch, were offset with high-quality carbon credits from nature-based projects.

EU and Consumer Groups React

The Financial Times highlighted (via 9to5mac) BEUC’s rejection of Apple’s claim, following the EU’s long-anticipated crackdown on “greenwashing”. BEUC’s director-general, Monique Goyens, criticized the carbon neutral claims as scientifically inaccurate and misleading, supporting the EU’s move to eliminate such claims, including those from Apple.

BEUC’s Stance

Representing 45 independent consumer organizations across 31 countries, BEUC aims to uphold consumer rights throughout Europe. The criticism was echoed by the nonprofit Carbon Market Watch, which labeled the offsetting as an “accounting trick”, misleading consumers into believing the watches have no climate impact.

Temporary Offset Critique

Despite the criticism, Apple’s offset through timber plantations was acknowledged as a short-term carbon-saving measure. However, experts argue that the carbon stored in products from these plantations is quickly released back into the atmosphere, challenging the effectiveness of such offsets.

Upcoming EU Ban on Carbon-Neutral Claims

In light of these events, the EU has proposed a ban on carbon neutrality claims in marketing materials if they rely on offsets. Though not yet confirmed, the ban is anticipated to be implemented in 2026, reshaping how companies like Apple market their sustainability efforts.

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