Apple Ditches Leather for Environmentally Friendly Materials, Reveals FineWoven

The company is striving to be carbon neutral by 2030 and is introducing a new material for watchbands, phone cases and more.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper

The new Nike Sport band for the Apple Watch includes colorful flakes of recycled material.

Apple; screenshot by CNET

Many of the changes announced Tuesday at Apple's "Wonderlust" event involved the company's quest to move all its products to becoming carbon neutral by the year 2030. One of those changes means Apple accessories, including watchbands and iPhone cases, will no longer use leather.

"Leather is a popular material for accessories, but it has a significant carbon footprint," Lisa Jackson, Apple vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, said during the event. "To reduce our impact, we will no longer use leather in any new Apple product, including watchbands, and that starts today."

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Lisa Jackson speaks about Apple's goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

Apple/Screenshot by CNET

With leather gone from the watchband and other options, Apple is exploring more environmentally friendly materials. The company is calling one of those materials "FineWoven" and says it's made of 68% postconsumer recycled content, giving it a significantly lower carbon footprint than leather, while offering a subtle luster and suedelike feel.

Apple will also use its FineWoven material for iPhone MagSafe cases and wallets, as well as the Magnetic Link and Modern Buckle Apple Watch bands.

Apple/GIF by Arielle Burton/CNET

The Apple Watch Series 9 also includes numerous technical changes, including faster performance, on-device Siri processing and a new means of interacting with the watch through a gesture called Double Tap.

And the Apple Watch Ultra, Apple's high-end outdoors watch, will be available Sept. 22 and also includes Double Tap.

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