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Apple Goes Green: Why Getting Rid of Plastic Packaging Could Be Good for Business

In its most recent earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook reiterated the company's goal to remove all plastic in its packaging by 2025 and go carbon-neutral by 2030.

With consumers increasingly conscious about the environment, many big tech companies are finding that going plastic-free and carbon-neutral is good business strategy.

Apple (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report CEO Tim Cook reiterated the company's goal to remove all plastic in its packaging by 2025 and go entirely carbon-neutral by 2030 in his company's most recent earnings call on Oct. 28.

"As our customers are seeing when they purchase iPhone 13, we've redesigned the packaging to eliminate the outer plastic wrap, which will allow us to avoid using 600 metric tons of plastic," Cook said. "[...]We've also made good progress toward our goal to one day make our products without taking anything from the Earth."

Apple is Not Alone

The move to eliminate plastic, mirrored by companies like McDonald's (MCD) - Get McDonald's Corporation Report and American Airlines (AAL) - Get American Airlines Group, Inc. Report, comes at a time when consumers are increasingly asking questions about the environmental impact of products they buy. 

A recent consumer study by Mastercard ( (MA) - Get Mastercard Incorporated Class A Report) found that 62% of people polled believe it's important for large companies to be sustainable and eco-friendly while 54% are trying to reduce their own carbon footprint since the breakout COVID-19 pandemic.

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Leaning into that trend could have a meaningful impact for companies including Apple.

With Americans expected to spend a record $487 billion on new phones in 2021, tech companies play a large role in both real-world and consumer perception of whether something is being done for the environment.

Another survey by environmental technology company GreenPrint found that 64% percent of Americans are willing to pay more for products that are environmentally friendly but 74% aren't always sure how to identify such products.

Apple Has an Edge

Making a product that is sustainable can help win over consumers specifically looking for that and score an edge over the competition. Steps such as increasing its carbon-neutral suppliers and using more recycled materials, which Apple also said it was doing in the same earnings call, can keep the company top of mind as environmentally forward and, in doing so, bring in more sales.

It's also a pretty big edge to be Apple (or any large company doing this) because it's easier to raise consumer awareness. Cook sharing Apple's environmental pledges simply gets more media attention than when a smaller company tries to do the same or even bases its business around sustainability. 

"We're very encouraged to see the growth in this area and we will continue to drive those changes in the supply chain in the months and years to come," Cook said. "We've never viewed our environmental work as a side project."