The AirPods, Achilles heel of the environmental approach of Apple

“Your device goes with you every day. And you can count on him “, says Apple on the site devoted to its environmental efforts : ” it is, therefore, designed to withstand years of use and continue to serve for a long time. “ It is undoubtedly the case of the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. But the AirPods ? Are they really ” made[s] in sustainable materials ” ?


Daisy, the robot who disassembles the iPhone. Image Apple.

This question is of major importance : Apple sells millions of AirPods. In the same way as their ancestors headphones white iPod, they have acquired an iconic status, until it became a true phenomenon social. After two years of daily use, however, they will leave your ears to reach the recycling bin of your Apple store local in the best case, the bottom of your drawer for the worst.


In cause : their small farm. With time and use, its capabilities are degraded, this is normal. But it can not be replaced. Can she at least be extracted, and the components of the AirPods can they be upgraded ? The report ” environmental responsibility,” Apple says nothing. He does not mention once the AirPods, and even then only in a list of products assembled in factories certified by the law firm of consulting UL.


For more than ten years, Apple publishes ” fact sheets environmental “ for all of its products. All… except the AirPods. It might be objected that the accessories such as keyboards and mice have never been affected by these sheets. But they should, and other devices such as the Apple Watch and the HomePod have one. The Apple Watch is less accessory than the AirPods, it can not be configured without using an iPhone ?


However, these sheets are very detailed : they give the performance of the chargers, the list of materials used for the manufacture of the devices, and even an estimate of the amount of greenhouse gases emitted during the life of the product. They are part of a package of documents that allow to understand the environmental impact of the devices hit an apple, and make informed decisions.


Apple has built in champion of sustainable development. With good reason : buy an iPhone or a Mac today, and you have the assurance that it will receive software updates for five to seven years, and that you will be able to find spare parts during ” the first five years after the end of the production of these devices “. After years of proud service, you will finally be able to bring it back to the shop, where it will enter the recycling system and upgrading the most advanced in the industry.


But buy a pair of AirPods today, and you will not have the same guarantees. The battery can be separated from the plastic safely ? Apple boasts of the capabilities of his robot disassembler iPhone, but nothing suggests that the AirPods can be de-boned and recycled in the same way. ” The more advanced products are those in which the environmental impact is the lowest “, says Apple — but what is the environmental impact of the AirPods ?


The fact is that you can take all the arguments of its site on the environment, and place the AirPods in contrargument. The ambition of environmental excellence Apple can’t stop the main products — it should extend to the accessories, which are precisely the products that have the highest chance of ending up in a landfill. After three years and a huge success, some information about the environmental impact of the AirPods would probably not be too much.



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