Apple’s iPhone was the first smartphone model produced by Apple and is the basis of all the other smartphones. The iPhone is designed as one of the most sold technology products. The phone gets a new model each year, which allows the company to retain new customers that keep on coming. iPhone is made out of many small items and minerals which are used to make various parts. Apple Inc. has a recycling program meant to protect the environment, but more must be done to increase the recycled components.
In 2020, Apple Inc. was approximated to have released 22.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide in different levels all through its supply chain. That was a reduction from the 25.1 metric tons that the company released in 2019, and the drop was primarily due to the reduced production during the 2020 financial year. The measurement checks the three scope emissions, with the first scope being that of the company’s vehicles. The company maintains an effective supply chain worldwide where it sells its products in many of its stores. The first scope of pollution is caused by the many cars and logistics operations done by the firm.
The second scope of pollution is caused by the purchased electricity, heat, and steam. Being a global company involved in the Information technology industry, the company consumes a lot of electricity from suppliers using diverse sources, including coal and gas. Manufacturing uses the majority of the electricity. Scope three includes the use of the phones and gadgets that the company sells. It also covers the business travel within the company and employee commuting. Waste disposal for the company also ranks at this level and contributes to the large quantities of Carbon dioxide emitted.
Compared to other smartphone models, it is reasonable to state that Apple emits less carbon dioxide. Among the most notable global brands that compete with the company are Samsung, Huawei, and Oppo. All these companies happen to come from Asian countries, including South Korea and China. They face less scrutiny regarding emissions in their home markets, allowing them to emit more carbon dioxide with minimal consequences (Aljafari, 2016). Apple Inc. is assessed on its impact on the environment, and the process has allowed for improvements over the years.
The iPhone is known to make use of many different materials due to the advancement in technology. These materials are mined and processed in various places globally, and their availability differs. An iPhone X requires about 46 elements to be completed but has five core materials used in significant quantities. Aluminum, Iron, Lithium, Gold, and Copper are all used in large quantities and form major phone components. Of these five, the rarest is lithium, and it is also likely to be the first whose reserves may end.
Chile is the largest producer of lithium and has been supplying many battery producers involvement in making different consumer products. It is also the least recyclable of these materials, making it the most vulnerable to shortages in the long term. The other materials are also nonrenewable, but they are available in large quantities worldwide and thus are less likely to have deficiencies in the long term. The company must invest in research and development on the lithium battery to guarantee that it can have an alternative if there develop shortages in the future.
Apple Inc. is one of the largest users of material from all across the world. The company has a policy of giving priority to recycled materials over freshly mined ones. The company aims to make use of only renewable resources and recycled materials. To this end, the company has invested considerable resources in designing a supply chain that focuses on sourcing material from suppliers that recycle material across different world areas. Its focus is on recycled material, which helps reduce the amount of mining and environmental pollution.
According to Apple Inc. (2020), Apple has invested in a supply system that supplies 100% recycled aluminum. Metal forms a significant part of the phones and gadgets that the company makes. The company uses aluminum recycled from various sources, among them soda cans and motor vehicle parts. Aluminum is among the most easily recyclable materials in the world, and thus it makes a lot of sense to source recycled aluminum. The sources are mostly in India and the United States as the two countries have large quantities of the used aluminum.
Apple Inc. also has a global recycling program that enables the company to recover materials such as cobalt, aluminum, and tin from the various iPhones. Previous models such as iPhone X and iPhone 9 are easily separated, allowing the individual involved to recover as much material as possible effectively. The company also has agreements with its suppliers to take up the materials and recycle them while ensuring they are environmentally friendly. The process occurs across many countries enabling for effective recycling of large quantities of material. The company also helps by recycling other e-waste, thus facilitating better disposal of technology-related devices.
Recycling raw materials can be profitable, but it largely varies on a case-by-case basis. Some materials that are easily sourced, such as aluminum, are often very profitable to recycle, considering that they can also be sourced in large quantities from many different sources (Wohlgemuth, 2016). On the other hand, recycling materials such as magnesium may often turn out not to be profitable. The loss-making process is mainly due to the small quantities of the products, making it hard to get large amounts sold commercially.
The overall process of recycling is profitable when done in significant economies of scale. Considering that Apple Inc. has a global reach, the company can source used electronics from all around the world. It can then recycle them to produce sufficient material for their manufacturing process. However, it is vital to note that the recycling processes of some materials are very energy-intensive and can often cause more harm than using newly mined material. Creating the right balance is critical for the company’s long-term success in preventing pollution of the environment.
Relation between Technological and Economic Perspective
The economic success of any item has often proven to be the key to guarantee that the masses adopt a product. The development of technology has also been vital in helping make specific processes more economical and increasing the usability of various materials. The technology available in the market influences the economic viability of certain practices. Recycling materials is one of the areas where better technology plays a role in helping make the process more economical. The pursuit of making recycling more efficient has also led to the advancement of the technology used for recycling.
Apple Inc. has been expanding its global recycling program to facilitate recycling more e-waste across many different areas. The company has been investing in the research and development of large recycling machines used at recycling facilities to help get various materials from technology gadgets (Więcek-Janka, 2017). An example of the success of this process is the production of the Daisy recycling robot. The machine introduced by Apple Inc. can disassemble the iPhone X and effectively recover as many materials in the phone as possible. The process shows that better technology helps make recycling more economical.
Advancement in technology also helps make the company’s products more long-lasting, thus increasing the product cycle. The most notable case is that of the lithium-ion battery. When smartphones were first introduced in 2007, they did not have great battery life. The technology made it necessary to recharge your battery regularly, and it also made the battery spoil within a short period. With the advancement of battery technology, the lithium-ion battery was introduced, which lasts longer and gives customers a better experience. Technology, in this case, made the process more economical as battery’s last longer and reduced the need for recycling.
Improved technology also helps with the production of electricity. The use of electricity is one of the key sources of pollution for Apple Inc. Still, the improvement in technology increases the share of renewable energy that the company can buy. The technological development in the last decade has made the share of wind energy and solar energy increase considerably. It has allowed Apple Inc. to access affordable renewable energy (Zhou, & Gupta, 2019). The advancement in technology has facilitated the economic production of electricity using solar, and the process has resulted in having environmentally friendly energy at an economical price.
Lastly, the growth in the global economy has enabled Apple Inc. to get access to a larger market than they would have anticipated. In the last decade, there has been substantial growth in the global economy, which has presented Apple Inc. with a large market where they sell their products and make billions of dollars. The economic success allows them to reinvest in research and development to help facilitate the development of better technology. The process has been successful as Apple has continued to innovate with new products and better technology that increases the life cycle of products and even makes them energy efficient, thus facilitating long-term well-being.
Major Challenges and Recommendations
From the assessment above, it is evident that the technological advancements across the industry are closely related to the economic viability of various processes. Currently, the major changes being experienced relate to the collection of e-waste. In many countries around the world, there is no effective system that can be used to collect old technology devices. Most of these devices are thrown alongside other trash, and they end up in landfills, where they are likely to cause significant environmental harm as they continue to degrade. It is a challenge to develop an effective collection system that can help collect most e-waste from the world (Rodriguez, 2015).
Second, it is a major challenge to effectively design a phone or computer to disassemble, repair, and recycle most components. Due to the current designs of the internal components of phones and computers, these items are often challenging to repair or recycle. The process usually has to be done by professionals who understand the designs or are thrown away. When more customers want slim and stylish devices, it is a major challenge to design a modern and thin product while having an optimal design for the recycling process at the end of the product usage limit.
The first recommendation is to develop a legal framework on a global level that can help with the regulation of e-waste disposal. Technology is used and traded worldwide, and it is necessary to have a system in place that can assist with the disposal of waste and recycling. Global regulations can help develop recycling systems that can then facilitate the recycling of all the smartphones and computers disposed of each year to guarantee that all reusable parts are reused, and all the recyclable materials are recycled.
The second recommendation has to do with training and guiding the members of the public. I recommend that a global educational curriculum is designed to guide people on the most appropriate things that they can do to help with recycling. By training all people on the importance of recycling and its impact on the environment, it is possible to have populations that are considerably keener to guarantee that they recycle all materials in the most appropriate ways (Yun et al., 2019). Having technology users keen to recycle various components is the most effective way of increasing the number of recycled products. The process can also promote designs that are friendlier to the recycling process and facilitate the reusing of functional components within a phone or computer.
Apple Inc. has a recycling program meant to protect the environment, but more must be done to increase the recycled components. Electronic devices are an essential item in our everyday life, and they directly impact the quality of life we live. Apple Inc. has invested in making its supply chain as sustainable as possible, and the process is supported through technological and economic advances. Technology development leads to economic development and vice versa; thus, having both can help Apple Inc. and other technology manufacturers move more effectively towards zero environmental pollution. With global regulation and public education, it is possible to effectively improve the usage and disposal systems that are currently utilized with technology gadgets.
Aljafari, A. (2016). Apple Inc. industry analysis business policy and strategy. International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research, 7(3), 406-441.
Apple Inc. (2020, March). Apple Life Cycle Management . Apple . https://www.apple.com/ca/business/docs/resources/Apple_Lifecycle_Management.pdf.
Rodriguez, E., Carrasquillo, O., Lee, C., Lee, J., & Zhou, A. (2015). iGo Green: A Life cycle Assessment of Apple’s iPhone. iConference 2015 Proceedings.
Więcek-Janka, E., Papierz, M., Kornecka, M., & Nitka, M. (2017). Apple products: A discussion of the product life cycle. In 4th International conference on management science and management innovation (Vol. 31, pp. 159-164).
Wohlgemuth, V., Fuchs-Kittowski, F., & Wittmann, J. (Eds.). (2016). Advances and New Trends in Environmental Informatics: Stability, Continuity, Innovation. Springer.
Yun, B. S., Lee, S. G., & Aoshima, Y. (2019). An analysis of the trilemma phenomenon for Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy. Service Business, 13(4), 779-812.
Zhou, L., & Gupta, S. M. (2019). Marketing research and life cycle pricing strategies for new and remanufactured products. Journal of Remanufacturing, 9(1), 29-50.