Before 2020, cell phone chargers served as the best example of an accessory that we never imagined could be removed from the handset box. After all, we need them to guarantee the functioning of cell phones.
But behold, Apple comes as a true defender of the planet to save us from waste, showing how chargers actually increase our global carbon footprint and contribute to the accumulation of electronic waste.
And then, since everyone already has chargers at home, they announce that the next iPhones will come without it and without headphones in the box. This way, the boxes get smaller and help to optimize the use of space in the containers and reduce the emission of pollutants.
The arguments are well presented and as much as many people are disgusted and as much as we know that the real justification is only their profit, deep down it seems that they have a good reason to justify the action this time.
However, the more I read, research and think about it, the more I am convinced that the reality is different and that simply removing the chargers from the smartphone cases is worse for the environment.
Chargers become junk mail
Apple did what it did, and the business has become a trend in the industry. One of their arguments was that everyone already has the right charger, so just the cable is enough, but then, on iPhones 12, they send the USB-C cable, which only works for those who have already bought a better charger, or I was doing a direct upgrade of the iPhone 11 Pro or Pro Max, which were the only ones to come with this type of charger.
And for other users who have basic chargers, this cable automatically becomes junk mail. Unless they buy a new charger.
In addition, in the same family as the iPhone 12, Apple brings out the magsafe wireless charging system, which according to rumors, incidentally, will be mandatory in future handsets of the brand. Only this new base does not come with cell phones. Worse, it also doesn’t come with the plug.
So whoever wants these accessories will also have to buy two more different boxes. Not to mention that wireless charging is almost 50% less efficient than charging via cables, which increases electricity consumption and therefore is worse for the environment in this sense as well. Do you see, Ivair, the horse’s petulance?
But okay, let’s ignore these inconsistencies for a moment and think about the companies’ internal vision. Imagine that you are an executive at these companies. When you remove the chargers and headphones from the boxes, they get smaller. So they not only manage to fit more devices per container and pollute less, but they are also contributing to generate less electronic waste and everything.
You, as a good executive, do some quick math and calculate that doing so will greatly reduce the company’s carbon footprint and at the same time save a hefty amount of money on materials.
But the world doesn’t end at the company and here comes the domino effect. I don’t know about you, but at the time that I had my own smartphones, when I exchanged an old one for the next one, I didn’t keep it saved. What the vast majority of people do with old cell phones is either to sell, or to pass on. And in those cases you usually send the charger along.
Even if you were a psychic, you predicted that you would need the charger and kept it when you gave someone an old cell phone, the person who received your device will still need a charger, right?
This is not to mention that there are other problems, first that the old chargers eventually end up spoiling, are lost or stranded, or are simply not as fast as the most modern chargers. And since today’s smartphones are getting bigger and bigger, having a slow charger is a disadvantage.
Did the production of boxes really decrease?
So now we make an account: you buy a new cell phone without a charger and it comes in a smaller and cute box. Except that you will need a charger, and as it did not come in the same box, it will need its own packaging, which takes up a lot more space than if they were inside a cellphone box slightly larger than this.
Thus, we can already see that the reduction argument does not work very well in favor of the environment. But it gets worse, because the packaging that we receive in deliveries is not just that of the cell phone and that of the charger. We receive each one in a separate cardboard box, usually lined with plastic bubbles. And so far there have been two of those.
If you’re going to enter the world of wireless charging, increase that to three boxes. If you don’t have a headset compatible with your phone’s connector, which now has no input for normal headphones, then you’ll have to buy one too because they also took it out of the package.
Now there are four huge delivery boxes, and for each of them, there was probably a separate trip from the delivery vehicle to your home, which does not help with pollution.
Cell phones have a speaker and do not need headphones to work, so this is really not essential and we can even ignore this part, although many people consider this point relevant.
Anyway, as much as I am not a scientist to do all these accounts accurately, I would still be willing to bet that all of this together has a much greater impact on the environment than if the charger simply came along with the box. .
Companies are not lying when they say that by removing this they are reducing the impact on the environment. However, the effect of this is that the impact of each buyer on the environment increases. In short: companies transferred their weight to consumers, left with a clean image and still profit from this process. That’s how you do business, children!
After all, how to help the environment?
But then what could companies do if they really wanted to help the environment? Well, I don’t have all the answers, but one option that has good potential is to invest in better chargers.
An example is the new chargers based on gallium nitride, which is a material that manages to be 25% more efficient than that used in modern chargers, while allowing to make quite powerful chargers that would still fit in the smaller cases of latest cell phones.
And because they are more efficient, they also heat less, which allows them to last longer. That is, in one shot, this would make us spend less energy, reduce the use of materials, allow us to send more cell phones per container without increasing the separate shipment of chargers and it would take longer for the chargers to stop at the dump.
Xiaomi, which had originally hinted that it would launch the Mi 11 without a charger as well, went back on the global launch and not only re-included one in the box, but did so with a gallium nitride charger. Let’s see now if they continue this way in future releases or if they will discreetly remove that in the next ones.
And you, what do you think about removing the porters from the boxes? Tell us there in the comments.