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The real impacts of Apple ditching chargers and headphones?

Since iPhone12, Apple has stopped including charger as an accessory of the phone, raising controversial debates among buyers. While it is claimed that this action saves raw materials and reduces carbon footprint as most users have already had a charger, others believe that this is just a smart move of Apple to increase their profit.

On the bright side,...

According to Apple, 700 million pairs of Lightning Connected EarPods and 2 billion power adapters are already in circulation on the market, so there is no need to provide users with the same accessories that they have already got one (or even more). As stated by Teresa Domenech of University College London’s Institute for Sustainable Resources on CNBC, “The initiative by Apple to stop including headphones and chargers is a step forward to reduce unnecessary EEE (electrical and electronic equipment products) that will duplicate those that we already have. This could not only help to reduce waste but also would prevent upstream environmental impacts linked to the extraction of primary raw materials, manufacturing and distribution of products". Apple estimated that this change would help cut more than 2.2 million tons (2 million metric tons =450,000 cars) of carbon emissions annually, which is a significant proportion for Apple on the track to be carbon neutral by 2030.

The amount of e-waste is a shockingly number of 57.4 million tonnes (source: the Internet)
The amount of e-waste is a shockingly number of 57.4 million tonnes (source: the Internet)

Furthermore, without the need for accessories, Apple can pack iPhones in a smaller package, hence reducing the need for packaging materials and logistics company can ship 70% more boxes per pallet.

With the shocking amount of e-waste at a record 48.6 million tonnes of e-waste was generated worldwide in 2019, an a projected number of up to 67 million tonnes by 2030, almost doubling from 2014, the intention to be greener by Apple is a one that deserves a celebration.

Wait, is this a greenwashing move though?

According to the Daily Mail, Apple has saved a total of £5 billion ($ 6.5 billion) by removing selling chargers and EarPods in the box. But, instead of lowering the price of the phone for customers, Apple kept the same price even the final box comes without any accessory. At the same time, many iPhone buyers who want to a quick way to charge their iPhones have to have the 5W adapter that came with the older models, at a price of about $19 for a 20W charger. The extra shipping environmental cost for new accessories are also considerable, as extra packaging and delivery are all significantly negative.

Do we really need different type of chargers? (Source: the Internet)
Do we really need different type of chargers? (Source: the Internet)

This hence raises a big question about this move, whether it is truly for the benefit of the environment, or the 'greener' aspect is more of a side-benefit. The important step for Apple is to agree on the common charger, rather than using its specifically designed ones, so that users, regardless phone brands, can use the same charger. An effective recycling scheme to collect used and broken accessories is also appreciated, so that the amount of e-waste going to landfills will be significantly reduced.



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