The Financial Express

No charger with phone – Curbing e-waste?

No charger with phone – Curbing e-waste?

Tech giant Apple took a much talked about decision of not including chargers in their iPhone-12 boxes. Back in October 2020, the brand declared its phone box with no chargers and labelled it a step towards curbing digital waste. The decision majorly relies on reduced extra costs, market profitability, and e-waste, according to tech analysts.

Apple is known for its off-the-wall manners in terms of smartphones. The brand launched its new 5G enabled line of phones. The setups inside the phones cost much higher than the older ones. Apple is not shipping iPhone-12 with Airpods and chargers, resulting in a decreased need for space which supports 70 per cent more of the product.

On the other hand, following Apple, popular conglomerates like Samsung and Xiaomi are launching some of their signature 2021 models without chargers. Samsung Galaxy S21, S21 Plus, and S21 Ultra come without power-blocks. Xiaomi's 2020 model Mi 11 is also waiting to join the club.

Apple's initiative of not including chargers narrows down over 2 million metric tons of carbon annually- comparable with 45,000 car emission each year. Wired magazine reports, there are over 700 million lightning headphones, over 2 billion Apple power-banks out there. Customers are interested in wireless charging.

E-waste seems to be quite an issue here. The brands are making a difference in the tech industry since they are making an effort to cut the number of carbon footprints.

Apple clarified with the official press release of the iPhone-12 that the brand intends to have a net-zero climate effect by 2030. Apple's commitment is challenging to fulfil.

Globally, an estimated 50 million tons of e-waste is generated annually and could go up to 120 million tons by 2050- the World Economic Forum reports. The amount is approximately equal to 4500 Eiffel Towers. With such a demoralizing picture to imagine, Apple’s initiative is praiseworthy.

Seemingly, the spokespersons of Apple encourage the consumers to reuse products, think-before-buy and be more pragmatic. However, each iPhone-12's MagSafe 15W unwired, magnetic charger sells for 19 USD. Adding the charges for the accessories makes the price for the iPhone-12 slightly higher.

Apple has made its iPad and Macbook compatible to charge with USB-C adapters that allow speed charging. However, the iPhone-12 rests with the archaic lightning USB setup. The effect of the brand's decision is not conspicuous since iPhone-12 doesn't entirely support the latest Type-C USB power-adapters. Thus, sustainability is missing. Market profitability seems to have garnered importance.

A customer would have to either buy or find a USB-C adapter or switch to the Apple products that support lightning-end to USB-C-end or other traditional USB adapters to plug in the lightning cable.

The brand's newly brought-in magnetic wireless charger MagSafe is what one of the iPhone-12's focusing points lie around. For fast charging, customers can shift to MagSafe power-blocks.

Even if the popularity of wireless charging plays a role here, the effect would not be hugely environment-friendly. Wireless charging takes more power than usual power-blocks. As a result, the growth of wireless chargers can induce carbon footprints.

Customers in need would still buy iPhone-12 charger separately according to their demand. One might opt for wireless charging, buy a USB-C power-block, or use previous iPhone chargers. Although, USB-C blocks and previous iPhone chargers wouldn’t supply power at a faster rate than MagSafe would.

Apple would earn a noticeable profit from the sales of charging devices. Reportedly, the environment wouldn't receive plenty of benefits from the initiative. Apparently, it seems neither the consumers nor the environment can be benefited from this. Rather, Apple is the winner all the way.

The writer is a student of CSE department, EWU. [email protected]*











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