Tech firms mark Earth Day with eco-friendly investments

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 22 Apr 2022

Technology companies have reinforced their commitments to investing in environmentally-friendly initiatives to promote a carbon-free future and raise awareness of the fight against climate change, to mark Earth Day 2022.

As environmental sustainability increasingly becomes a key priority for companies across the globe, tech firms Amazon, Intel, Microsoft, Oppo, Google and Apple are among the organisations that have announced initiatives to help preserve and protect Earth.

Earth Day is an annual event that takes place on 22 April to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First held in 1970, it now includes a wide range of events coordinated globally by The official theme for 2022 is “Invest in our planet”, with more than one billion people in over 193 countries expected to observe the day today.

While the technology sector is one of the biggest sectors across the globe, it is also responsible for producing large amounts of carbon emissions. The ICT sector alone reportedly makes up over 2% of global greenhouse emissions.

To observe Earth Day, Amazon has unveiled several offerings to help reduce carbon emissions and create a more sustainable shopping experience for customers.

This includes the launch of Amazon Aware, its first private brand with products all having third-party certifications featured in the Climate Pledge Friendly programme.

The retail giant says it is also donating $1 million to reforestation non-profit One Tree Planted, to help plant a total of one million trees, starting in April through December, to make an impact around the world.

American multinational consumer electronics giant Apple made several announcements, stating it will strengthen its sustainability strategy, which seeks to achieve carbon-neutrality for its entire carbon footprint by 2030.

The company says it is expanding the use of recycled materials across its products, with almost 20% of all material used in Apple products in 2021 being recycled – the highest use of recycled content to date.

The company released a new document on its progress on recycling innovation efforts and clean energy targets in its 2022 Environmental Progress Report.

“As people around the world join in celebrating Earth Day, we are making real progress in our work to address the climate crisis and to one day make our products without taking anything from the earth,” says Lisa Jackson, Apple VP of environment, policy and social initiatives.

“Our rapid pace of innovation is already helping our teams use today’s products to build tomorrow’s, and as our global supply chain transitions to clean power, we are charting a path for other companies to follow.”

Apple’s recycling robot, Daisy, can disassemble up to 1.2 million phones each year, helping recover more valuable materials for recycling.

By 2030, Apple aims to transition its entire product supply chain to 100% renewable electricity.

Apple’s recycling robot, Daisy, can disassemble up to 1.2 million phones each year.
Apple’s recycling robot, Daisy, can disassemble up to 1.2 million phones each year.

Crisis mode

Environmental and social consciousness has been gaining momentum over the past few years, as consumers become more selective in supporting businesses with high environmental, social and corporate governance standards.

Global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose by 6% in 2021 to 36.3 billion tonnes, their highest level, as the world economy rebounded strongly from the COVID-19 crisis and relied heavily on coal to power that growth, according to an IEA analysis released last month.

Google has highlighted the ramifications of climate change on Earth through its doodle tool. Using the interactive doodle, the internet tech giant displayed stark satellite images of deforestation in Germany, the glacial melt in Greenland, glacial retreat at Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, and the Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching in Australia, to educate users about the importance of environmental protection.

Google has announced several initiatives, including a new $6 million fund to provide organisations in areas experiencing the brunt of climate change with additional resources to address issues like air quality, water preservation and renewable energy access.

“We’ve always believed that to enable others, we need to be leaders in the way we address our impact on the planet. In October, we set a goal to achieve net-zero emissions across all of our operations and value chain, including our consumer hardware products, by 2030,” says Kate Brandt, chief sustainability officer at Google.

“We aim to reduce the majority of our emissions (versus our 2019 baseline) before 2030, and plan to invest in nature-based and technology-based carbon removal solutions to neutralise our remaining emissions.”

Forests are home to many of the natural resources that humans rely on to survive. However, due to excessive deforestation, the Amazon rainforest has lost 17% of its area over the past 50 years. Deforestation and the reduction of forest land is a direct threat to biodiversity on earth, as well as a recognised accelerator of global warming.

Chinese smartphone maker Oppo says it is prioritising its responsibility as a global corporate citizen, adopting a long-term commitment to sustainability. Today the company announced a slew of initiatives, from reducing paper consumption and partnerships aimed at re-using waste products, to increasing product lifecycles and repurposing e-waste.

“The protection of our natural environments and the biodiversity on this earth is an issue too big to ignore. With as many as one million species currently under threat of extinction, Oppo hopes to use technology to help preserve the colour and beauty these species add to nature,” it says.

“Oppo is also helping to promote the recycling of waste electronic products through its industrial and NGO partnerships in Europe and Australia, where we have been working with the Taronga Conservation Society to call on the public to correctly recycle their waste electronic products and reduce the amount of e-waste that ends up in landfills.”

Microsoft says, in collaboration with partners across the globe, it is working to build a more sustainable future, through the Microsoft #BuildFor2030 Initiative, which aims to help advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The tech giant is running several initiatives, including the Climate Innovation Fund and AI for Earth, to fund climate change solutions and artificial intelligence offerings that will contribute to environmental conservation.

Earlier this month, Intel committed to further reduce its direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions, and to work with customers and industry partners to create solutions to lower the greenhouse gas footprint of the entire technology ecosystem. Intel committed to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across its operations, by 2040.