We all love things to be black and white, don’t we? We quickly demonize companies for choosing to do something that chafes with our sensibilities while we laud those who provide us with something new and different… well, until we see how they made it. But "business" isn’t that cut-and-dry. There are factors that compound factors and motives that counter other motives all the time. And nothing embodies this more than Apple’s position on Right to Repair (R2R).
Why the green Apple spoils
There is certainly no shortage of evidence that Apple is pushing to be green. Between investing in designing robots to dismantle iPhones with surgical precision, or building a giant hoop powered exclusively with renewables, they are obviously on-board with the message. But then Mr. Hyde appears, and they release roughly a dozen new, marginally improved, products which continue to add to the e-waste stream pouring out of our homes and offices.
This is the dichotomy of a green manufacturing business: what is needed to make business profitable directly opposes any good being done environmentally. This is largely true because of the materials at our disposal; plastics and lithium-ion batteries are not particularly eco-friendly.
But there is another dark spot on Apple’s sustainability that could very easily be removed—if only they would see it that way. The Right to Repair (R2R) is a movement intent on getting manufacturers (like Apple) to release documentation, parts, and tools for consumers to be able to repair their own devices—a decidedly sustainable move. And it’s one that Apple is doggedly fighting.
So, where does this fit in with all the sustainability Apple is claiming to have? I mean, it’s a simple switch that could change the entire spectrum of what Apple is doing—change that waste stream to a circular flow of materials (creating a feedback loop as green as they come in doing so, I might add). As I said earlier, the motivations of business are complex. Apple claims R2R would ruin the integrity of their products. But, sadly, the stain they’re forcing us to leave on the environment (when we can’t prolong the life of our devices through repair) damages their brand more than any repairs ever could.
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