Apple hypes environmental friendliness of new Mac mini & MacBook Air

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware
Apple has quietly released "Product Environmental Reports" for its two new Macs, championing their energy efficiency and the use of recyclable materials.

Apple's 2018 MacBook Air


The 2018 Mac mini uses 60 percent recycled plastic in the foot cover and connector wall, and 27 percent "bio-based" plastic in its fan, according to one fact sheet. The lifetime carbon footprint is said to be 226 kilograms, or about 498 pounds, 45 percent lower than the 2014 model.

The new MacBook Air reportedly uses 100 percent recycled aluminum for its enclosure, and 100 percent recycled tin in the logic board solder. 35 percent "or more" of the plastic in the speakers and vent is recycled.

Apple claims that the entry-level version of the laptop has a carboon footprint of roughly 176 kilograms, a little over 385 pounds.

Some other details mentioned include packaging improvements. In both cases, all of the wood fiber in used is said to to come from "recycled and responsible" sources, the actual recycled amount being 37 percent. 96 percent of the Mini's box is fiber-based.

With the Air, Apple touts that it uses 87 percent less plastic in its 2018 packaging than it did last year, and that the amount of recycled content in its fiber is 46 percent.

In April last year Apple revealed plans to eventually build its products using entirely recycled materials. Even at the time, though, the company admitted it wasn't sure how it would obtain that goal.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    I'm pretty sure that "hypes" (from the headline) is not a synonym for "has quietly released" (in the opening sentence).
    king editor the gratemattinoz
  • Reply 2 of 12
    When I was working in Apple Retail for a time we were asked to talk about the recyclability of iPhones and (in a nutshell) how Apple made products being environmentally aware.  Not one person ever showed the slightest amount of care for that and it was obvious to me that it made little difference, if any, in their purchasing decision.  On a few occasions I even had people make disparaging remarks to me about it.  I found that mildly interesting considering the headlines when Greenpeace or whoever take Apple to task over environmental issues. And I know lots of people who recycle in their own home but also don't care that their iPhone is potentially more environmentally friendly than some other phone.
    randominternetperson
  • Reply 3 of 12
    When I was working in Apple Retail for a time we were asked to talk about the recyclability of iPhones and (in a nutshell) how Apple made products being environmentally aware.  Not one person ever showed the slightest amount of care for that and it was obvious to me that it made little difference, if any, in their purchasing decision.  On a few occasions I even had people make disparaging remarks to me about it.  I found that mildly interesting considering the headlines when Greenpeace or whoever take Apple to task over environmental issues. And I know lots of people who recycle in their own home but also don't care that their iPhone is potentially more environmentally friendly than some other phone.
    That's very interesting. Apple's care for renewable energy is extremely important to me. That's why I find it almost insulting how they don't make RAM or storage upgrades possible anymore!
    igohmmm
  • Reply 4 of 12
    I'm pretty sure that "hypes" (from the headline) is not a synonym for "has quietly released" (in the opening sentence).
    And we sometimes are taunted for not reading the stories ...
  • Reply 5 of 12
    SomeBodySomeWhereSomeBodySomeWhere Posts: 4unconfirmed, member
    So if they really wanted to make an end-to-end impact they would alter the designs to allow easier RAM and SSD upgrades in order to allow users to extend the lifetimes of these devices - most especially the Mini...   This design ethic that demands glue and solder has to be re-thought in light of the environmental impact. Yeah I know the new Mini has upgradable RAM but have a look at the process - ridiculously over-engineered - why the proprietary screws?  This to drive higher revenue per device - in direct contradiction with the environmental rah-rah ---  stop the duplicity Apple!
    edited November 8 igohmmmPylons
  • Reply 6 of 12
    So if they really wanted to make an end-to-end impact they would alter the designs to allow easier RAM and SSD upgrades in order to allow users to extend the lifetimes of these devices - most especially the Mini...   This design ethic that demands glue and solder has to be re-thought in light of the environmental impact. Yeah I know the new Mini has upgradable RAM but have a look at the process - ridiculously over-engineered - why the proprietary screws?  This to drive higher revenue per device - in direct contradiction with the environmental rah-rah ---  stop the duplicity Apple!
    I understand your point, but engineering is always about compromises.

    Apple has a number of different objectives and principles that complete with each other.  For example, we can infer from their actions and public statements, that they value all of the following (in no particular order):
    • Environmental sustainability
    • Making intuitive products that "just work"
    • Making products that are a joy to use
    • Making attractive products
    • High profit margins
    • Customer privacy
    • Worker safety and well being
    • Making durable products
    • Making new versions of products so consumers upgrade to the latest version
    • Providing good value to the consumer
    Some of these jump out as outliers--things that Apple doesn't value at all.  But that's not the case, it's just that other priorities are higher.  If Apple came out and said "minimizing our impact on the environment is our #1 priority" it would behave very differently.  Instead they seem to be saying "given our interest in making durable, elegant products that we can make and sell at a high margin that people love, what can we do to minimize our ecological harm."  That's not "duplicity."  It's also not worthy of sainthood.

    Me personally, does Apple environmental stance and recycling efforts change my purchasing behavior one iota?  Nope, but I'm glad they're making an effort.
    king editor the grate
  • Reply 7 of 12
    SomeBodySomeWhereSomeBodySomeWhere Posts: 4unconfirmed, member
    I guess my point is that they create the impression that the environment is important to them - and to their credit I believe they do more engineering along these line than most, if not all, other consumer electronic manufactures.   Good for them - yes!
    BUT
    They undercut the actual impact by making engineering choices that reduce product lifetimes and create unnecessary costs.
    Using proprietary screws does not make the product more durable.
    If it makes it easier to upgrade RAM by making the case .25 inches wider - then do it. Small and thin should not the be all end all goal of their product design.
    Why have they jacked up RAM prices beyond reason for the last 20 years and slowly but surely made it more difficult or impossible for folks to upgrade RAM at a later date?
    Its perceived as greedy AND it creates shorter lifetime uses of their products which undercuts the impact of their environmental efforts.

    You want the environmental crown? - then earn it - deliver products that are engineered green AND allow customer to extend the lifetimes.

    edited November 8
  • Reply 8 of 12
    My 2012 MBP is still going strong. That is environmentally friendly.

    And I credit Apple for supporting it still with Mojave and for a design which allowed the MBP to grow with me: RAM. Larger HD. Then SSD.

    Same for external equipment: Thanks to many flexible ports I could and still can put various equipment to good use. 

    Current Apple products seem all about ultraportability. Ultraportability necessarily requires compromises, which is all good and well for iPad and MBA. But MB and MBP? I wish Apple would bring back portables (not ultra) without the compromises on longevity, flexibility, ruggedness, repairability. A worthy successor to my old MBP would make environmental sense, too, but is nowhere in sight. 
  • Reply 9 of 12
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,349member
    So if they really wanted to make an end-to-end impact they would alter the designs to allow easier RAM and SSD upgrades in order to allow users to extend the lifetimes of these devices - most especially the Mini...   This design ethic that demands glue and solder has to be re-thought in light of the environmental impact. Yeah I know the new Mini has upgradable RAM but have a look at the process - ridiculously over-engineered - why the proprietary screws?  This to drive higher revenue per device - in direct contradiction with the environmental rah-rah ---  stop the duplicity Apple!
    Nope, you have that backwards. 

    If the the vast majority of people upgraded their machines then you’d have a point, but they don’t, so you don’t. 

    If you use screws then you need extra materials for the brackets to hold the components and more space to hold the bracket which means a larger case and more screws to hold the bracket to the case. You could glue the bracket, but if you’re working to the assumption that the machine is upradeable, then you have to also assume that having people going into the case to upgrade memory (which you’re saying they must be doing, otherwise it wouldn’t be worthwhile then that fiddling might weaken the glue) so that’s more screws to hold the bracket.

    If you’re going to cater for people who are going to upgrade the machine then you have to give them space to work, so that’s more material to make the case larger. 

    So more screws, more brackets, and more material for the case, multiplied a few million times over – for something that very few people do. 

    Environmental impact is not just about recycling; it’s about using less materials to begin with. From Apple’s viewpoint, it makes more sense to save materials (and money) on brackets because they know that the vast majority of people won’t open the machine anyway. It’d be wasteful to use the extra materials just to cater for the tiny number of people who want to save money by not getting a decent amount of memory when they buy the machine. 

    I have a friend who says that he’d never buy Apple kit because he can’t upgrade the memory. 

    I asked him how many computers he’d owned over his life. 
    “About six or so.”
    And how many times had he opened the case. 
    “None – but I might want to, one day,”



    edited November 9 jony0
  • Reply 10 of 12
    SomeBodySomeWhereSomeBodySomeWhere Posts: 4unconfirmed, member
    the example of your friend proves nothing except that he has an opinion.

    While it is probably true the the majority of people do not open their machines it is also true that the complexity of doing this prevents or discourages a good number from even contemplating this..  There is also a non-trival sized set that are interested in future proofing and Apple used to supply options to these folks.  These folks amplify the environmental impact...

    I was not lamenting the use of screws.  I am lamenting the use of the proprietary screws that increase the cost and complexity of upgrading...

    If I don't have a point - why did Apple release an upgrade-able (meh) machine just last week?
  • Reply 11 of 12
    I think I have this right, there are 11 Toyota plants in Europe and they are all recycling 100%. 

    I applaud Apple for the focus on the environment.

    Eventually, someone at a keynote will state 100% of Apple iPhones produced are from "recycled iPhones!"

    Imagine a world where all companies were this mindful of recycling....

    Side note: I heard an interview with the first African-American female astronaut on the space shuttle and she was asked, "Do you think we will get back to going into space?" She said we all are already in 'Space!'

    The planet Earth!

    I thought it brilliant. And yet we continue to treat our oceans as one large Port-a-Toilet! 
  • Reply 12 of 12
    I think I have this right, there are 11 Toyota plants in Europe and they are all recycling 100%. 

    Imagine a world where all companies were this mindful of recycling....
    I’m not sure what that means. Surely it’s not that every vehicle coming out of those plants is made from 100% recycled material. Does it mean 100% of their cardboard or aluminum waste is recycled? I’d like a little clarity there. 

    BTW, again, while I was at Apple there was a strong focus on recycling cardboard/paper and plastics.  We had different bins for trash and plastic and the BOH crew always had a cardboard box we would fill with other broken down cardboard. But here’s the catch, when we took the trash and recyclables down to the main dumpsters everything just got mixed together because THE MALL DIDN’T RECYCLE! They had separate dumpsters but anything went anywhere. Ridiculous. 
    edited November 9
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