Apple Environmental Report demystified - what it all means to the consumer

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 9
The production of consumer electronics is damaging to the environment, and there's no real way around that. Apple has been striving to help offset the damage they're doing by adopting more environmentally sound practices, but how much does it help?

Apple's Environmental Responsibility Report


Apple released its last Environmental Responsibility Report in April of 2019, offering a glimpse into how the company is making strives to become environmentally friendly. The report shows some impressive figures, giving many Apple fans and environmental advocates hope for a brighter, more ecologically sound future.

But, there's a lot more behind the numbers and figures that Apple presents.

The inherent problems with mobile technology

Smartphones are endemic of a much larger problem. Apple is not even close to fully responsible for the damage that consumer electronics have done to the environment.

Apple consistently ranks highly among companies who are trying to mitigate the environmental damage that comes with manufacturing consumer electronics. In 2017, Greenpeace gave Apple a green electronics rating of B-, which is significantly higher than Huawei, who received a D, or Samsung, who received a D-.

The problem lies in the quantity of devices that are manufactured. More than 1.5 billion smartphones are expected to be produced every year, and only a portion of them will be an Apple product. For any real environmental damage to be reduced, all electronics producers will need to start adopting less damaging practices.

Environmentally smart, economically smarter

People are often quick to praise Apple for attempting to mitigate the damage done to the environment that comes with electronics manufacturing and running a trillion-dollar company. While praise is due, it's also worth knowing that there are a plethora of reasons why beating competitors to the environmentally-friendly punch is in Apple's best interests.

Early adopters of "green" practices, be it renewable sourcing of electric or switching to energy-efficient appliances or reducing manufacturing waste, are given financial incentives to do so. It's often far less expensive to be an early adopter of green practices than it is to be a company punished for eschewing them.

On top of that, it just looks better. When you can tell consumers that your product is less environmentally detrimental than your competitors, it makes you look like a smarter choice.

We live in an era where a lot of consumers want to be seen making smarter, more environmentally conscious choices. When Apple makes the choice to publicly disclose what efforts they've made toward reducing harm to the environment, Apple is telling consumers that, by extension, they are also doing less damage.

Whether or not this is a factual statement, however, is an entirely different issue. Prior to publication, we reached out to Apple to see if they had any more information on where they plan on taking their sustainability efforts in the future, but received no reply.

Plastic is so 2017

One of the things observant Apple fans may have noticed is that Apple has started phasing out plastic in their packaging. This started in 2018, when the iPhone 7, iPad Pro, and the 2018 iPad were shipped with fiber alternatives to the traditional plastic trays. In 2018 alone, nearly 218 million iPhones were sold, and nearly 218 million plastic trays didn't wind up in landfills.

That's enough plastic to fill the entire Mall of America to a depth of eight trays.

Carbon footprint reduction

Image Source: Apple Environmental Responsibility Report 2019
Image Source: Apple Environmental Responsibility Report 2019


What's one of the things that Apple can do that an average consumer can't? Make a meaningful transition to renewable energy resources. When the average consumer gets an electric bill, oftentimes there's an option for you to opt-in to receiving "renewable energy benefits."

Every electric company is a little different at this point, but they all work more or less the same: You check the box, you pay your electric bill, and part of that electric bill funds research and development projects for your area's renewable energy program.

As a general rule in the United States, household electricity is still primarily coming from fossil fuels -- coal and natural gas. Globally, coal still produces 41% of the world's electric. This isn't likely to change any time soon, as it difficult -- at least in the United States -- to update infrastructure to incorporate things such as solar, wind, or hydroelectric. On top of that, a majority of U.S. citizens still oppose nuclear energy.

Apple, on the other hand, has a lot of money and resources. Apple can purchase land that they can build solar and wind farms on. Apple can install highly efficient solar panels on the roof of its corporate offices to help offset the need for fossil fuels.

In doing this, Apple has managed to source 99 percent of its electricity from renewable resources, preventing about 690,000 metric tons of carbon emissions from going into the environment. For comparison, in 2012, only 60 percent of their electric was sourced from renewable resources.

Waste is still waste

Recycled vs Landfilled Waste


If we look at the data provided by Apple on their recycled versus landfilled materials, it gives the picture that Apple has removed a lot of potential waste from landfills. This is absolutely the correct takeaway from the data, but it also doesn't highlight a bigger problem -- Apple is producing considerably more waste than they have been in past years.

Landfilled Waste


In fact, in 2012, Apple sent just over 4.8 million pounds of waste to landfills. By 2015, that number rose to over 13 million pounds. In 2018, Apple had sent 36.5 million pounds -- or 18,250 tons -- of waste to landfills.

Hazardous waste


And that's just the waste that they could send to landfills. As the chart above shows, Apple's hazardous waste has nearly doubled from 2017 to 2018.

This primarily has to do with the fact that Apple just produces more devices these days. By producing more devices, they're ultimately going to produce more waste. For example, in 2018, Apple sold over 217 million iPhones, versus 125 million in 2012. Of course, this isn't everything Apple makes, but it is a good proxy.

It should also be noted that Apple had not been including their statistics for distribution center waste in their reports until 2017. This accounts for a large portion of their landfilled waste prior to that date as well.

Yes, Apple should be applauded for reducing the amount of waste that could have been sent to landfills. Ultimately, we should be willing to recognize that they're still producing many more times the waste they were producing seven years ago.

Even accounting for more complete reporting with the inclusion of distribution center waste, it's clear that Apple still has a lot of room for improvement in reducing hazardous and landfilled waste.

What's mined is mine, and what's recycled isn't mined


One of the most environmentally detrimental processes in electronics production is mining. Consumer electronics are responsible for a significant amount of mining. The electronics industry is the second-largest consumer of copper. That's nothing to say of rare earth minerals, which are used for things like Taptic engines in smartphones.

Mining not only disrupts ecological sites by requiring deforestation and habitat destruction, but it also renders that land susceptible to erosion, which isn't easy to reverse. Ores and minerals are also capable of leaching into soil and groundwater. This can and often does contaminate the water table near mining sites and render drinking water unsafe.

Runoff and mine waste can also create ecological dead zones in streams, rivers, and ponds near mining sites. These minerals and ores often show up in food chains, the same way seafood has become associated with an increased risk of mercury poisoning.

Apple has done quite a bit to reduce the need for mined materials where possible. The new Mac mini and new MacBooks now use 100 percent recycled aluminum enclosures.

And while it wasn't included in this year's Environmental Responsibility Report, Apple recently went public with the fact that they're going to obtain rare earth elements from recycled electronics. The iPhone 11 line features recycled rare earth in the Taptic Engine, so the effort is underway.

This is a long-term goal for Apple, as stated in the environmental report.
"We're on a mission to one day use only recycled and renewable materials in our products and packaging, and to eventually eliminate our reliance on mining altogether" - Apple Environmental Responsibility Report 2019, page 23
While recycling and using recycled elements will never completely eliminate the damage done by manufacturing, it does help mitigate it. Recycling elements when and where they can, especially in the production of consumer elements, is a critical step in environmentally sustainable practices.

Practical solutions to practical problems

Even with their best efforts, the manufacturing of electronics is inherently environmentally detrimental. Around 80% of the carbon emissions made caused by electronic devices are produced during the manufacturing process, according to Greenpeace.

The only real solution to lessening environmental impact in a substantial way is for a company to stop producing products at unsustainable rates.

There isn't a glut of Apple products sitting on shelves, forever unused. Given that Tim Cook fixed Apple's supply and demand problem, leading him to be crowned the CEO, the company does an excellent job with on-demand device fabrication, and this keeps surplus and unused stock to a minimum. But the fact still remains that the company has produced billions of devices in its lifetime, and each one of those has an environmental impact.

The practical solution is for consumers to simply purchase phones and computers more infrequently, because reusing the same phone for multiple years greatly reduces environmental impact in a chain of events that leads to the manufacturing company making fewer. From a consumer standpoint, it can be hard to pass on the newest features, especially when carriers let you switch phones as frequently as every two years.
CloudTalkinmuthuk_vanalingam
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 42
    Good read Amber.  I was just going to skim it and keep it movin' but your more nuanced take made me read the whole thing.  Too many times environmental articles end up being copy/paste marketing bullet points.  Even though consumer electronics manufacturing will never be completely clean, Apple and companies like them doing all they can to lessen the impact... yeah, that's a good thing.  You providing a better understanding of what that "lessening" is, is also a good thing.
    muthuk_vanalingamMacQcrandominternetpersonmknelsonchasm
  • Reply 2 of 42
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 186member
    The reality is it means nothing to all but a few people.
  • Reply 3 of 42
    rattlhedrattlhed Posts: 112member
    Something I've always wondered is all the electronics that are produced and never sell.  Look at the amount of lithium battery packs that are made by hundreds of companies. Hell I get free ones at conferences just handed out to all the attendees.  How many of these just go in the garbage.  And the earth elements that are required to make those can never be replaced.  And you think about these companies that make smartphones that have a fractional market share.  How many thousands of these phones are made, with all their minerals and rare elements that go into manufacturing, and then they just sit on store shelves, eventually to just be trashed.  At some point we're going to run out of these elements, right?  At what point do we run out of lithium, cobalt, copper? And then where are we going to be?  We're so reliant on this interconnected technology, but when the well runs dry it's going to be scary crazy.  
  • Reply 4 of 42
    dewmedewme Posts: 2,193member
    Very well presented article that reminds that solving systemic problems, whether technical, social, environmental, financial, etc., requires system thinking. Unfortunately, as Jimh2 points out, even though nearly everything we deal with in life involves a system, very few people are able to see, much less understand, the system. This has nothing to do with human intelligence or collective consideration for system concerns, it's just very difficult (in both time, cost, and complexity) to describe and present these systems to the population at large in a meaningful way.

    For those who "see" the system, they are often powerless to control it in a meaningful way, so they prescribe measures that chip away at the edges in some small way. Companies that care, like Apple, do chip away larger chunks than those who don't give a rip, while the rest of us chip in by stopping the use of plastic straws and bringing our own bags to the grocery store. Unfortunately we often have a hard timing seeing the impact of our measures on the system, and frequently our attempts at resolving an issue in one area, e.g., electric vehicles, simply move the problem somewhere else in the system, e.g., electric power generation. All systems are subject to the theory of constraints, so it's a never ending battle to deal with the part of the system that's the current constraint. But we have to keep trying.

    Thank you for shining a little light on some of the environmental impacts of the consumer electronics lifecycle.  
    CloudTalkinGG1chasm
  • Reply 5 of 42
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,148moderator
    “Smartphones are endemic of a much larger problem.”

    I’ll make a few points.  

    First, thank goodness the smartphone exists.  Consider all the products it replaces.  How much water and natural resources were used in the production of the thousands of different models of clock radios over the years, before the alarm clock function of a smartphone made that product category obsolete.  Clock radios were big and bulky compared to smartphones, requiring even more fuel to deliver them to market and taking up more space in landfills. Okay, you might not have replaced your clock radio every two or three years, but as a kid I recall I owned my own, my two brothers had theirs and my parents had one in their bedroom.  That’s four in my household growing up, and it was a requested Christmas gift to get an updated model.  But maybe we kept them on average four or five years.  But add in portable transitor radios, walkie talkies, albums, then cassettes, then CDs and mini discs, Sony Walkman players, aftermarket car radios (which still exist but are far less commonly swapped out in the age of Bluetooth connection to the music collections on our smartphones).  Add in stand alone cameras, initially with film cartridges, which we burned gas to go buy and to go drop off at the local photomat.  Then digital cameras, and the upgrade treadmill associated with those.  Video recorders, landline phones, then early wireless home phones, then clunky cellular mobile phones.  Most all the above products were more voluminous than a smartphone, and in aggregate were produced in far larger numbers since a lot of people owned many of these products.  So smartphones have been an environmental godsend relative to the world we lived in previously.  

    Second point, thank goodness for Apple, as the company has long resisted simply adding a bigger battery to each iPhone, instead opting to improve the iPhone’s compute efficiency with each new model.  I would love to see Apple come up with a test procedure that shows the compute efficiency of iPhones versus the competition; each phone does the exact same tasks, in the same apps, and compare the overall energy utilized.  My guess is that iPhones would compare favorably, and that means fewer coal-fired power plants constructed because the iPhone exists and few less spent lithium.

    Third, everything mentioned in this article.  It’s just too bad we aren’t more often reminded about the two points above as I think they are the more significant points to be made.  
    edited October 9 thtMacQcGG1StrangeDaysyojimbo007razorpitrandominternetpersonlolliver
  • Reply 6 of 42
    thttht Posts: 3,312member
    As a general rule in the United States, household electricity is still primarily coming from coal. While coal use is on the decline, the majority position isn't likely to change any time soon, as it's fairly difficult -- at least in the United States -- to update infrastructure to incorporate things such as solar, wind, or hydroelectric. On top of that, a majority of U.S. citizens still oppose nuclear energy.
    Just delete this from the editorial. Natural gas overtook coal for electricity generation about 2 years ago. Maybe in the 5 years, coal will slide under nuclear.

    As a sign of things to come, renewables+hydro generated more electricity than coal last spring in the USA for the first time. This will become permanent in spring in 2 to 3 years, and will gradually spread to the other months of the year.
    davgreglolliver
  • Reply 7 of 42
    davgregdavgreg Posts: 478member
    Natural Gas is the largest source of electricity in the US according to the Energy Department. https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=427&t=3

    Apple’s biggest environmental concerns are these:
    1- A global supply chain that has a massive carbon footprint.
    2- Apple’s stubborn tendency to ship devices with non-standard, non user replaceable batteries. For all the recycling talk, most electronics end up in the trash and that means the toxic battery ingredients will end up leaking in a landfill. If they used standard batteries recycling would be much easier.
  • Reply 8 of 42
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,989administrator
    davgreg said:
    Natural Gas is the largest source of electricity in the US according to the Energy Department. https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=427&t=3

    Apple’s biggest environmental concerns are these:
    1- A global supply chain that has a massive carbon footprint.
    2- Apple’s stubborn tendency to ship devices with non-standard, non user replaceable batteries. For all the recycling talk, most electronics end up in the trash and that means the toxic battery ingredients will end up leaking in a landfill. If they used standard batteries recycling would be much easier.
    Standard batteries? Like what? AAA?
    mwhitelolliverurahara
  • Reply 9 of 42
    “Smartphones are endemic of a much larger problem.”

    I’ll make a few points.  

    First, thank goodness the smartphone exists.  Consider all the products it replaces.  How much water and natural resources were used in the production of the thousands of different models of clock radios over the years, before the alarm clock function of a smartphone made that product category obsolete.  Clock radios were big and bulky compared to smartphones, requiring even more fuel to deliver them to market and taking up more space in landfills. Okay, you might not have replaced your clock radio every two or three years, but as a kid I recall I owned my own, my two brothers had theirs and my parents had one in their bedroom.  That’s four in my household growing up, and it was a requested Christmas gift to get an updated model.  But maybe we kept them on average four or five years.  But add in portable transitor radios, walkie talkies, albums, then cassettes, then CDs and mini discs, Sony Walkman players, aftermarket car radios (which still exist but are far less commonly swapped out in the age of Bluetooth connection to the music collections on our smartphones).  Add in stand alone cameras, initially with film cartridges, which we burned gas to go buy and to go drop off at the local photomat.  Then digital cameras, and the upgrade treadmill associated with those.  Video recorders, landline phones, then early wireless home phones, then clunky cellular mobile phones.  Most all the above products were more voluminous than a smartphone, and in aggregate were produced in far larger numbers since a lot of people owned many of these products.  So smartphones have been an environmental godsend relative to the world we lived in previously.  

    Second point, thank goodness for Apple, as the company has long resisted simply adding a bigger battery to each iPhone, instead opting to improve the iPhone’s compute efficiency with each new model.  I would love to see Apple come up with a test procedure that shows the compute efficiency of iPhones versus the competition; each phone does the exact same tasks, in the same apps, and compare the overall energy utilized.  My guess is that iPhones would compare favorably, and that means fewer coal-fired power plants constructed because the iPhone exists and few less spent lithium.

    Third, everything mentioned in this article.  It’s just too bad we aren’t more often reminded about the two points above as I think they are the more significant points to be made.  
    Your sentiment is admirable, but none of your supporting points stand scrutiny. Volume would be the primary enemy of your argument.  The sheer volume of smartphones vs clock radios (odd choice there) would probably use more resources - and more varied types of resources - than clock radios.   As Amber highlighted, even with all of the environmental efforts related to recycling, more waste is entering landfills and hazardous waste is being generated.  @dewme made a great point that our efforts tend to move the overall problem from one area to another.   

    Your energy consumption to coal-fired plants logic corollary does not compute.  That would be like me saying smartphone manufacturing contributes to coal-fired plant creation because coal-fired plants are being created primarily in areas where smartphones are manufactured.  It's wrong.  Just as wrong as your "...and that means fewer coal-fired power plants constructed because the iPhone exists ..."  https://www.carbonbrief.org/mapped-worlds-coal-power-plants Push the slider to future to see where coal-fired plants are planned and/or under construction.

    I know what you're trying to say.  In principle, I can somewhat agree.  But your message is diluted by your supporting points.
    edited October 9 cat52
  • Reply 10 of 42
    RajkaRajka Posts: 31member
    I understand why corporations like a subscription model, dependably predictable income to keep shareholder returns high. Planned obsolescence is but a form of that, the continual buying of a product that has an arbitrarily fixed service life simply to increase sales. That trick is as old as I can recall, though it's really kicked in a big way over the past few decades. How ironic and morally bankrupt that companies would support this model as environmental concerns increase. Shame on Apple for playing a huge role in this. No amount of spin how Apple recycles products can ever make up for the damage it is directly causing to the Earth. There is simply no excuse for why its products cannot be readily repaired, upgraded, and expanded. One cannot even swap out a battery without shipping it to Apple for repair. Utterly ridiculous. For Apple to even suggest it cares about the environment is disingenuous at best; Tim Cook cares only about shareholder returns. Period. The worst part is that Apple's huge success using planned obsolescence has pushed the personal computer industry in that direction so that it has become the new norm. So much in fact that a majority of younger consumers don't even question this. There oughta be a law. I'm going to stop commenting now; expletives are hurling throughout my mind and I don't want them to spill out.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 11 of 42
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,784member
    davgreg said:
    Natural Gas is the largest source of electricity in the US according to the Energy Department. https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=427&t=3

    Apple’s biggest environmental concerns are these:
    1- A global supply chain that has a massive carbon footprint.
    2- Apple’s stubborn tendency to ship devices with non-standard, non user replaceable batteries. For all the recycling talk, most electronics end up in the trash and that means the toxic battery ingredients will end up leaking in a landfill. If they used standard batteries recycling would be much easier.
    🤦🏾‍♂️
    SoliStrangeDays
  • Reply 12 of 42
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,784member
    davgreg said:
    Natural Gas is the largest source of electricity in the US according to the Energy Department. https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=427&t=3

    Apple’s biggest environmental concerns are these:
    1- A global supply chain that has a massive carbon footprint.
    2- Apple’s stubborn tendency to ship devices with non-standard, non user replaceable batteries. For all the recycling talk, most electronics end up in the trash and that means the toxic battery ingredients will end up leaking in a landfill. If they used standard batteries recycling would be much easier.
    Probably should reply, but this makes so little sense I wouldn’t know where to begin. It’s like a big old  sewer pipe clogged with a fat berg of failed logic. 
    SoliStrangeDayslolliver
  • Reply 13 of 42
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,490member
    It's great what Apple is doing, but IMO, Apple is still completely hypocritical.   If they really care about the environment, they would make devices that lasted longer because the user could easily replace parts.   IMO, it's unforgivable that in a MacBook Pro, one cannot replace/upgrade the battery, storage and memory, all of which used to be easily user replaceable.    It was one of the things I liked the most about my late 2008 MBP:  The little flip control to open the door for the battery, the shock mounted hard disk and the easy access to the memory modules were so well designed.  

    So there's two reasons for this (take your pick):  Apple's obsession with thinness destroys the practicality of making these components user replaceable (although hopefully with Ive gone, that will change) -or- Apple's strategic objective is to do this purposely so that people have to upgrade their machines more often.  

    The best thing Apple ever did in this regard was offer those $29 battery replacements for the iPhone.   It probably hurt iPhone sales, but it saved an awful lot of phones from going to landfills.  

    There's a report today in the Washington Post that AirPod batteries are dying within 18 months and can't be replaced.   This is absolutely ridiculous.  If batteries in hearing aids that are far smaller than AirPods can be replaced, then Apple could have designed AirPods with replaceable batteries.   It's both poor treatment of consumers and it's bad for the environment.  And how many people do you think are going to take those useless AirPods to a recycling center?   Most will wind up in the trash....maybe the plastic/metal bin, but still the trash.  

    My current MBP just might be my last Apple laptop if they don't change their approach (and that's aside from the fact that my $3100 early 2017 MBP has NEVER gotten more than 4 hours of battery life and four of the keys have had the part of the black area disintegrated).  It's like buying a car where you have to return to the dealer to replace tires, belts or battery, only where they're all mounted using non-standard methods that make it difficult and extremely costly.  Actually...it's worse than that.   It's like having to buy a new car because you need new tires, belts or battery.   
    gatorguymuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 14 of 42
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,989administrator
    zoetmb said:
    It's great what Apple is doing, but IMO, Apple is still completely hypocritical.   If they really care about the environment, they would make devices that lasted longer because the user could easily replace parts.   IMO, it's unforgivable that in a MacBook Pro, one cannot replace/upgrade the battery, storage and memory, all of which used to be easily user replaceable.    It was one of the things I liked the most about my late 2008 MBP:  The little flip control to open the door for the battery, the shock mounted hard disk and the easy access to the memory modules were so well designed.  

    So there's two reasons for this (take your pick):  Apple's obsession with thinness destroys the practicality of making these components user replaceable (although hopefully with Ive gone, that will change) -or- Apple's strategic objective is to do this purposely so that people have to upgrade their machines more often.  

    The best thing Apple ever did in this regard was offer those $29 battery replacements for the iPhone.   It probably hurt iPhone sales, but it saved an awful lot of phones from going to landfills.  

    There's a report today in the Washington Post that AirPod batteries are dying within 18 months and can't be replaced.   This is absolutely ridiculous.  If batteries in hearing aids that are far smaller than AirPods can be replaced, then Apple could have designed AirPods with replaceable batteries.   It's both poor treatment of consumers and it's bad for the environment.  And how many people do you think are going to take those useless AirPods to a recycling center?   Most will wind up in the trash....maybe the plastic/metal bin, but still the trash.  

    My current MBP just might be my last Apple laptop if they don't change their approach (and that's aside from the fact that my $3100 early 2017 MBP has NEVER gotten more than 4 hours of battery life and four of the keys have had the part of the black area disintegrated).  It's like buying a car where you have to return to the dealer to replace tires, belts or battery, only where they're all mounted using non-standard methods that make it difficult and extremely costly.  Actually...it's worse than that.   It's like having to buy a new car because you need new tires, belts or battery.   
    This is far, far more complicated than you say it is. Even a decade ago, far and away the vast majority of users didn't replace parts. And, in that decade since, the glue, and the sealed machines have cut way, way back on the per capita repair rate than prior.

    Apple can and does replace batteries, but you're right, they can't do RAM or drives without component level work at a depot.
    edited October 9 StrangeDaysrandominternetpersonlolliver
  • Reply 15 of 42
    thttht Posts: 3,312member
    As far as recycling, Apple’s best option is to take used machines and recycle it themselves. A lot of businesses take your old computer, but it’ll just end up in a landfill in some far away place. Theoretically, Apple could take old machines and recycle as much as possible. It will take some new machines and such.

    Recycling is really hard as it is too complicated for people. They just want one place to dump it, and let someone else sort it. Sorting it is time consuming and labor intensive, and programs are chronically underfunded. As long as this is true, recycling will fail for most things and it’ll end up in the landfill. It is yet another thing that will require either taxes or tax credits or whatever structure that can be funded well so that people can be hired to sort and breakdown thrown away stuff, and machines need to be designed and built to replace human labor eventually.

    Apple is planning to do closed loop manufacturing, so recycling of virtually everything that goes into their products will be in their plans. There’s just a tremendously long road ahead.
    StrangeDayslolliver
  • Reply 16 of 42
    davgregdavgreg Posts: 478member
    Standard batteries? Like what? AAA?
    Adopt a standard replaceable battery.Not an AA or AAA, but develop a standard battery just as they developed the Thunderbolt standard.

    Imagine how much easier battery-gate would have been to fix with a replaceable battery.

    Yes AA on the Mice, Trackpad and Keyboard. I have eneloops from Panasonic (formerly Sanyo) that are recharged and have lasted for years. All this throwaway electronics crap is leaving a nasty legacy for the next generations. When the closed case keyboards, mice, laptops, trackpads and iPads reach end of life they go in the trash more often than not.

    If you ever get a chance, ask Apple what percentage of their stuff comes back to Apple for recycling.
  • Reply 17 of 42
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 186member
    davgreg said:
    Standard batteries? Like what? AAA?
    Adopt a standard replaceable battery.Not an AA or AAA, but develop a standard battery just as they developed the Thunderbolt standard.

    Imagine how much easier battery-gate would have been to fix with a replaceable battery.

    Yes AA on the Mice, Trackpad and Keyboard. I have eneloops from Panasonic (formerly Sanyo) that are recharged and have lasted for years. All this throwaway electronics crap is leaving a nasty legacy for the next generations. When the closed case keyboards, mice, laptops, trackpads and iPads reach end of life they go in the trash more often than not.

    If you ever get a chance, ask Apple what percentage of their stuff comes back to Apple for recycling.
    Unfortunately size does matter on a phone and I don't want a removable battery if a bigger case or more weight will be required (which it will). The batteries are already replaceable, but you don't like the fact that they cannot be easily replaced by the user. Take a look around at your neighbors and friends and you will find that almost no one does anything themselves. I have replaced the battery in an old iPhone that I gave to my father-in-law and on (2) MacBook Airs that were sold. Anyone who is a regular on AppleInsider probably can change their own batteries or would attempt it if necessary so this blog is not good sample.
    StrangeDayslolliver
  • Reply 18 of 42
    taddtadd Posts: 122member
    How to reduce waste.  Stop requiring replacements due to electro-mechanical failures.  What about due to need for upgrade?  

    It would be clunky and sort of look like military hardware from the 70s, but I wonder if more than a few would embrace the portable computer for life idea.  Imagine a cellphone built with entirely interchangeable parts with the idea that anything that would be upgraded, could be done without tossing out the other parts.  Some elements, like the CPU itself, are atomic, not separable, but battery, display, keyboard, cameras, radio transceivers, antennas, are certainly separable.  If size are cost were not design goals, but survivability and interchange-able components were, could a POCKET sized computer exist?  It would be handy if we could come up with an open-source chassis for such a system as a start.  You can imagine that this would be much more clunky than an iPhone!  

    At some point the race to make dramatic improvements in the function of some devices stalls.  Is there a serious difference between a 2000 Toyota Corolla and the current model?  There certainly was a difference between a 1970 car and 1990.  Emission control, transmission, anti-lock brakes, seatbelts.  When we passed 16GB and 1TB and dual-core @ 1Ghz, modern computers went beyond where anybody not doing HD content creation or Augmented reality got bored with the race to upgrade.  Maybe video games keep the pressure up.. but I'm old so not really in that space.    What I'm seeing is cute features improvements and improvements to how the computer is built. But how far back do you have to go before a computer gets unusable?  There was a time around yr 2000 where 4 years back was pretty primitive.  HD sizes, network speed, and RAM capacity were barely keeping up with consumer applications.  I'm not saying the need for more isn't there, but compared to the rate of smart-phone improvements, demanded by a decent percentage of the population, computers are getting pretty boring.    My most recent home-computer upgrade was from a 2008 Mac Pro to a 2018 Mac Mini.   My office computer is a 9 year old quad core i7, 1st generation, and running MSWindows 7.   Could we get away with a 9 year old smart phones?   Hmm... iPhone 4.  maybe not.  But have we seen signs of a slowdown in technology growth?  

    Arthur Clark wrote a story, 50 years ago, titled "Imperial Earth", which takes place in the future.  Humans are interplanetary.  In the story, Clark imagines a device called a Minisec.  A Minisec device would be acquired by each person, sometimes as a teenager, to be used indefinitely, and rarely exchanged.  Many have compared the modern smart-phones to that imagined creation.  Is a lifetime device possible?   Could we imagine keeping a smart-phone for 10 years?  Could they be built well enough to survive the pitfalls of being portable?   That would surely reduce waste!  

  • Reply 19 of 42
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,787member
    Rajka said:
    I understand why corporations like a subscription model, dependably predictable income to keep shareholder returns high. Planned obsolescence is but a form of that, the continual buying of a product that has an arbitrarily fixed service life simply to increase sales. That trick is as old as I can recall, though it's really kicked in a big way over the past few decades. How ironic and morally bankrupt that companies would support this model as environmental concerns increase. Shame on Apple for playing a huge role in this. No amount of spin how Apple recycles products can ever make up for the damage it is directly causing to the Earth. There is simply no excuse for why its products cannot be readily repaired, upgraded, and expanded. One cannot even swap out a battery without shipping it to Apple for repair. Utterly ridiculous. For Apple to even suggest it cares about the environment is disingenuous at best; Tim Cook cares only about shareholder returns. Period. The worst part is that Apple's huge success using planned obsolescence has pushed the personal computer industry in that direction so that it has become the new norm. So much in fact that a majority of younger consumers don't even question this. There oughta be a law. I'm going to stop commenting now; expletives are hurling throughout my mind and I don't want them to spill out.
    Delusions also run throughout your mind. If you believe Cook manages to the share price, you haven't been paying attention. They're about as least Wall Street friendly as you can get. They manage for the customer, for delighting the customer. And as customers, we want thin, lightweight devices from Apple. Plenty of alternatives with fat form factors to chose from.

    The idea that Apple leverages "planned obsolescence" as a trick is absurd. Apple's devices have the longest useful lifespans of any in the industry, PC and mobile. I got 8 years on my last iMac. You can readily get 4-5 years on an iPhone if you don't feel the need to upgrade. Of course you will need to get it serviced to change the battery, but that's no different than having your auto serviced. Batteries are consumables and they can be replaced, even if it's too tricky for the average consumer.
    edited October 9 lkrupprandominternetperson
  • Reply 20 of 42
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,742member
    How to reduce waste?

    Ban all Android products that have the lifespan of a house fly.

    I see this as a non-issue, and I intend to keep on doing what I am doing, which is using and buying Apple products whenever I please.

    All of the Apple products and devices that I have bought throughout the years last for an incredibly long time. I still have decades old machines that are in pristine condition and work great. Sometimes I will give a device as a hand me down to a friend or relative, expanding the useful lifetime even more.

    "Greenies" and other characters who claim to be concerned about the environment should keep their phones for at least 5 years, otherwise their talk is all rubbish and they are not to be taken seriously.
    cat52lkruppFileMakerFellercornchip
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