Premium pricing for mediocre sound quality and a short life expectancy makes AirPods a huge bargain for most consumers. Apple is turning earphones, once an affordable option, into a financially and environmentally taxing product in exchange for a symbol of disposable wealth.
Apple is a leading tech company that revolutionized the way modern technology interacts with our daily lives. Over the past few years, Apple has made substantial effort in reducing its carbon footprint throughout the supply chain. The company’s 2018 Environmental Report boasts that they have lowered their comprehensive carbon footprint by 35% as compared to 2015. Greenpeace, an international environmental organization, awards Apple to be the most environmentally-friendly tech corporate in the world, giving it an A in each of these following subcategories:
However, there seems to be a disparity between Apple’s impressive sustainability ranking with the quality of its AirPods. To be frank, the company’s sustainability effort remains elitist as its premium pricing makes it inaccessible for consumers to maintain the longevity of Apple products. The battery life of a pair of AirPods averages around 18 months before it starts to deteriorate. To repair with warranty, Apple charges $48 for one bud. Together it’s $96. The cost to fix a pair of AirPods is enough to buy JBL Sports Wireless Earphones while still left with some money for two celebratory Big Mac’s. Without warranty, replacing each bud and its charging case cost $38 more than buying a brand new pair. For customers, it would make more economic sense to get a new pair of Airpods than paying for the repair. Apply has sold 1.4 billion pairs of earbuds since its premiere in 2016. Not only is electronic waste an emerging environmental issue, out of 3.4 million tons of e-waste generated in America in 2012, only 29% of them are properly recycled. Those remain in the landfills may lead to acidic wastewater contamination.