Apple Raises The Bar With Eco-Friendly iPhone Packaging

In recent years, Apple has worked to make its products more eco-friendly. Now it's extending that mission to even its packaging for the ever-popular iPhone. 


May 24 2019, Updated 9:37 a.m. ET

When it comes to technology, it can be hard to maintain an eco-friendly business. After all, the very nature of tech can involve a lot of progress in short periods of time--which can also lead to a lot of waste. But Apple is certainly leading the pack when it comes to incorporating sustainability, from their offices to the way their products are packaged. 

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In 2013, Apple hired Lisa Jackson, an environmental policymaker, to the firm's executive team, formerly the administrator in charge of the US Environmental Protection Agency. The move led Greenpeace to praise the company: "Jackson can make Apple the top environmental leader in the tech sector by helping the company use its influence to push electric utilities and governments to provide the clean energy that both Apple and America need right now."

Among some of its eco-initiatives are the commitment to close the supply chain, a Clean Water Program and moving all its factories and offices to solar power. And now the company is adding eco-friendly packaging to the list.

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The company's recently released paper and packaging strategy lays out the various measures the company is taking to lower the environmental impact its packaging has on the world, which involves three core steps: using paper more efficiently and using recycled paper where possible, sourcing virgin paper responsibly, and protecting and creating sustainable working forests.

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The first two components of the strategy seek to reduce Apple’s demand for the resource and improve the company's sourcing practices. But, as the report reads, "at Apple we were not confident that responsible sourcing alone would send a market signal that was strong enough to increase supply proportionally. The third initiative—to protect and create sustainable working forests—helps to ensure that Apple is not simply taking responsibly produced material from another buyer, but is instead growing the total global supply for a positive environmental impact."

Additionally, the company is looking to minor redesigns of its packing to save resources. The iPhone 7 case improved the design of the iPhone 6s packaging by combining two separate trays into one and changing the material from petroleum-based plastic to a fiber-based material. The results were an 84 percent decrease in plastic usage for iPhone 7 packaging next to the iPhone 6s.

The company employed similar changes to improve its EarPods carrier, while the iPhone 8 managed to find a more sustainable approach to the plastic wrap used to protect the handset’s wall charger. Since Apple produces tens of millions of iPhones, this represents a sizable material reduction that will likely expand to all its products in the near future. 

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