Apple has tweaked its iPhone packaging to pull back plastic waste levels.
According to its new Paper and Packaging Strategy, Apple’s iPhone 7 packaging has 84 per cent less plastic content than that used for previous models. Annual global iPhone sales now stand at 200 million-plus. Consequently, that 84 per cent reduction is stopping huge amounts of plastic – tons and tons – from going to landfill.
Apple’s plastic-reduced packaging achievement resulted from two major changes being made. Firstly, there’s now only one inner tray, instead of two. Previously, iPhones and iPhone accessories each had their own but, for the iPhone 7, these trays were combined. Moreover, the tray’s not plastic at all but manufactured from a special type of paper.
Secondly, Apple’s headphones now come cardboard-packaged, rather than in the traditional plastic case.
Reduced Plastic Content
These revisions mean plastic makes up a fraction of the iPhone 7 packaging’s fibre/plastic mass total, compared to earlier iPhone iterations. Now, recycled fibre has a much greater share, while the virgin fibre count’s much-reduced.
Apple went even further with the iPhone 8, introducing a ‘greener’ alternative to its plastic wall charger wrap. This was a meticulous process that saw Apple collaborate with an external supplier to modify certain manufacturing procedures.
‘Finding a fiber alternative proved challenging since fiber naturally expands and contracts with changes in humidity’, it explains. ‘The significant number of suppliers and locations through which the power adapter wrap would pass made controlling the humidity of the environment impossible. This required Apple to take a very hands-on approach, working directly with the supplier to alter aspects of the manufacturing process to create a fiber wrap that would meet technical needs. While the power adapter wrap is a small piece of the iPhone packaging, it represents a significant amount of material given the number of iPhone units sold.’
Greener IPhone Packaging
According to analysts, Apple has become much more environmentally-focused since ex-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s arrival, four years ago. It’s not just its greener iPhone packaging: corporate renewable energy updates, for example, are now fixtures on the agenda at product launch events.
With Apple’s data centres now entirely solar, wind or hydro-powered, the company is next looking to use recycled components across its product range.