Circular Economy Commitments
Accelerating the transition to a circular economy.
We recognize that realizing a sustainable world means that we must accelerate the transition to a circular economy. We must become a circular Google. At Google, we believe the path to a cleaner, healthier future begins with the decisions we make each day. That’s why we build sustainability into everything we do and strive to make smarter, more efficient use of our natural resources.
Creating a circular economy for materials, products, and buildings is a complex global challenge — but we see it as an opportunity to create and share processes, with people and the planet in mind.
A circular Google
We’re constantly looking for new ways to build products, design out waste and pollution, and keep materials and resources in use for as long as possible. We aim to maximize the reuse of finite resources across our operations, products, and supply chains—and to enable others to do the same.
Building for circularity
Inspired by the breakthrough work of our partners at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, our circular principles are designed to drive consistency and replicability across our business for the greatest impact. We believe that by incorporating circularity into our designs from inception, things created today can become the resources of tomorrow and enable reuse, repair, and recovery. We reuse materials at their highest environmental and social value, effectively extending the use of each resource for as long as practical, while balancing safety and quality. This helps us preserve embedded energy, labor, and materials while reducing our environmental impact.
At Google, just as we focus on people when it comes to designing our products, we’re also focused on people when creating healthy, sustainable workplaces — from our San Francisco Bay Area headquarters to our offices in more than 190 cities.
Around the world we’ve implemented strategies to minimize waste generation and identified diversion pathways that keep the waste we do generate out of landfills. In 2021, we reached 64% landfill diversion rate for waste from our offices globally.
Building circular data centers
We’re committed to achieving Zero Waste to Landfill for our global data center operations by reducing the amount of waste we generate and finding better disposal options. In 2021, our global landfill diversion rate for data center operations was 78%.
Designing out waste in our server management has long been a Google priority. In 2021, 27% of components used for server upgrades were refurbished inventory. When we can’t find a new use for our equipment, we completely erase any components that store data and then resell them.
Google consumer hardware products
To keep materials flowing in commerce longer, we design them to be safe for human and environmental systems — because we can’t change the chemistry of products once we put them out in the world.
By 2025, we aim to use recycled or renewable materials in at least 50% of plastic used across our consumer hardware product portfolio.1 And we’re working toward our target to eliminate plastic from our packaging and make our packaging 100% recyclable by that same time.
All Nest and Pixel devices launched since 2020 include recycled materials.2
We believe that by organizing information about our planet, and making it actionable through technology, we help people make a more positive impact together. We focus on partnerships that foster sustainability at scale.
Single-Use Plastics Challenge
At Google, we’re evolving our approach to the way we source products, serve food, and reduce our waste by looking to switch from using single-use disposable products to more reusable solutions.
To help reduce the plastic footprint in our cafes and MicroKitchens, we’re inviting food companies to join the Single-Use Plastics Challenge.
Food companies with single-use plastic-free product packaging will have the opportunity to test their products at Google food spaces.
Google for Startups Accelerator: Circular Economy
A 10-week virtual accelerator that will bring the best of Google’s programs, products, people, and technology to help startups and non-profits who are working to support a circular economy and realize a future without waste.
Growing impact through business partnerships
Google has been a partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation since 2015, working together on topics which range from consumer electronics and advanced technologies such as AI and machine learning to urban planning and construction.
We are also founding members of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Circular Electronics Partnership to advance a circular economy for electronic devices.
Supporting action on plastic pollution
In 2019, we joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative as a technology partner. With other participating organizations, we will scale-up solutions to end plastic waste and pollution with our technology.
In 2021, we partnered with the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) to develop a new machine learning model that reveals a more detailed and accurate view of plastic pollution in the areas neighboring the Mekong River in Thailand. This model can be used by local and national governments to explore policies and resources to prevent plastic leaking into waterways.
Responsible supply chains
Part of our ambition is to go beyond sourcing minerals more responsibly and actively work to end our collective reliance on raw materials. We’re also dedicated to achieving UL 2799 Zero Waste to Landfill certification for all final assembly manufacturing sites by 2022.
We’re continuing to integrate sustainability criteria into our supplier sourcing, to support our suppliers’ reporting, management, and emissions reduction processes. This data helps us set goals for our sustainability program — and to continuously improve our analyses of our supply chain GHG emissions.
While we work to build a circular Google, we’re also working to provide tools to help the billions of people worldwide who use our products every day.
Recycling on Google Maps & Search
Now people can find out where they can recycle or properly dispose of specific items on Google Maps and Search. By adding the new recycling attribute to Business Profiles, local storefronts and shops can show the recycling services they offer in just a few clicks — whether it’s for plastic bottles, electronics or glass bottles. As a result, people looking for something like “battery recycling near me” can more easily pinpoint local businesses on Maps and Search with the in-store recycling they need. 2 In addition, people who visit certain locations can make contributions in Maps and let others in their community know what types of materials can be recycled.
Your Plan, Your Planet
Your Plan, Your Planet, our award-winning interactive tool created in partnership with the California Academy of Sciences, walks users through interactive scenarios to showcase everyday examples of how small changes can make a big difference. In 2019, we expanded the tool to include a section on the circular economy and how people can extend the life of their stuff, and we released an education component as a tool for teachers. As of the end of 2019, Your Plan, Your Planet had documented more than 300,000 individual pledges for people to reduce their environmental impact.
Published white papers and environmental reports
At Google, transparency is an important component of our ambition to help others accelerate the transition to a circular economy. That’s why we routinely share research and case studies so that others may apply and build upon our knowledge and insight.
Take a deeper look: Google’s commitment to climate actionView report (opens in a new window)
Read about how we’re closing the Plastics Circularity GapLearn more (opens in a new window)