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Apple Should Switch The iPhone To USB-C If It Really Wants To Help The Environment

Opinion: Adopting the universal standard is the greener option

If you buy an iPhone in the future, you’re not getting an included charging brick or earbuds. Apple says the reasons are environmental. Giving out fewer “free” accessories with every phone means using less materials, the company claims, and also makes for smaller boxes that can be shipped more efficiently. So going forward, those boxes will just come with a phone and a Lightning to USB-C cable.

I think Apple’s approach is generally a good thing, but it should have gone further by switching away from its proprietary Lightning port entirely and fully embracing USB-C. Right away, that Lightning to USB-C cable would turn into a much more useful USB-C to USB-C cable that could charge basically all of your electronics. Or better still, Apple could remove the cable entirely and just ship the phone by itself, eliminating even more duplicitous waste.

It’s a relatively small change for each person buying an iPhone, but it’s massive when you consider the fact that Apple shipped almost 200 million iPhones over the past year, according to IDC. Chargers might make up a relatively small proportion of total e-waste, as Wired notes, but on a global basis, that’s still tens of thousands of metric tons annually. And as the lack of headphone jacks on 2020’s flagship smartphones shows, Apple’s decisions also have a huge influence on the rest of the industry.


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