Your carbon neutral Apple Watch might not be so green after all — EU accuses Apple of 'misleading' consumers and 'accounting tricks'

Apple Watch Ultra 2
(Image credit: Future)

The EU has accused Apple of ‘greenwashing’ regarding the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2, both with carbon neutral branding, and looks to ban the process used by Apple to achieve neutrality by 2026. 

Last month, during Apple’s Wonderlust event, the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 were revealed amongst a sea of new products. The new Watches were labeled as carbon neutral depending on the band selected when purchasing, a first for an Apple product.

Now, according to the Financial Times, Apple’s use of ‘misleading’ corporate marketing using carbon credits to “cancel out the 7-12kg of greenhouse gas emissions behind each new Watch has reportedly prompted a sharp reaction from consumer groups in the wake of a long-trailed clampdown by the EU on “greenwashing.”

Carbon credits

Monique Goyens, the director-general of BEUC, the European consumer organization, told the Financial Times: “The EU’s recent decision to ban carbon neutral claims will rightly clear the market of such bogus messages, and Apple Watches should be no exception.”

Carbon credits are sold to companies to offset their carbon emissions by helping improve the environment elsewhere. For example, if you manufacture a product with X amount of carbon emissions and then put money into supporting rainforests and planting trees in forests, companies can negate the damage to the environment from their manufacturing process.

Critics, however, argue that carbon credits present “systematic flaws”. Niklas Kaskeala, chair of the board at the Compensate Foundation, a non-profit adviser to potential buyers of carbon credits, told FT, “Trees are turned into pulp and cardboard or toilet paper (...) the carbon stored in these products is released back into the atmosphere very quickly”

Following the reveal of the new Apple Watch models, the EU said it would ban claims of carbon neutrality based on purchasing carbon credits by 2026.

Gilles Dufrasne, a policy officer at the non-profit Carbon Market Watch told FT, “It’s misleading to consumers to give the impression that buying the Watch has no impact on the climate at all, (...) it’s accounting tricks.”

Apple aims to use carbon credits to offset the Watch’s lifespan. The company says on its website, “Apple plans to cover residual emissions with high-quality carbon credits primarily from nature-based projects that remove carbon from the atmosphere, like restoring grasslands, wetlands, and forests. Carbon removal is critical to addressing climate change and achieving global climate goals, as leading scientific bodies like the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have emphasized.”

iMore has reached out to Apple for comment.

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John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself. Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings. John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019.  John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit.