Apple’s decision to exclude a charger in the iPhone 12 box has unsurprisingly sparked some controversy but it also ignited discussions around sustainability in the mobile world. True to its image as being a trendsetter, there are already speculations that other manufacturers like Samsung will eventually follow suit despite statements to the contrary. Google is conveniently skirting around that question and is instead focusing on its efforts to completely banish plastic from its products by 2025, at least as far as their packaging is concerned.
Almost everyone agrees that plastic is bad for the environment but getting rid of them is easier said than done. While we personally can do our part to reduce the use of the material, there’s little we can do to push companies to do the same aside from advocacy. Even our mostly metallic smartphones use some plastic, especially in the cardboard boxes they come inside.
Google says that it wants to have 100% plastic-free and 100% recyclable packing in five years. A lot of smartphones, Google’s included, already come in cardboard boxes with cardboard or paper pieces inside. There are, however, still a lot of plastic, including the protective cover tightly wrapped around the phone.
Beyond the packaging, however, Google is also moving to use 50% recycled or renewable materials where plastic is currently used in products themselves. It also has a 2025 deadline for this shift but it already has a head start. This year’s Pixel phones and Nest products are boasted to be designed with recycled materials, from the 100% recycled aluminum back housing of the Pixel 5 to the 70% recycled plastic enclosure of the Nest Audio.
That will probably also spark questions about the accessories that come inside the Pixel phone’s box, though Google’s objectives do give it a way out. It doesn’t have to leave out the charger. It just needs to make sure it’s made from recycled or renewable material instead.