Why It Matters: Sustainability

  1. suhantm
    Ice Cream Sandwich Feb 25, 2021

    suhantm , Feb 25, 2021 :

    Been waiting months (literally) to talk about this topic – it’s a topic that NEEDS to be discussed: Sustainability In Tech.

    Since it's not a widely discussed topic on the forums, I’d like to share some industry examples and tell you why it’s extremely important, especially after seeing how rapidly the environment has been degrading over the past decade. I’ll be discussing how other tech companies have been trying to fit sustainable practices into things like packaging, supply chain, and product decisions. The companies I’ll be talking about all have dedicated pages about sustainability, I’ll hyperlink those in the headings and all other sources will be linked in a reply below this thread.

    (Source: https://www.apple.com/environment/)

    Apple is seen as the industry leader on the topic of sustainability, this can be seen in the thoroughness of their dedicated page that discusses the efforts and goals they’ve set. Here are the highlights:
    • Material Sourcing / Usage: Apple has committed to the goal of one day using 100% recycled materials for all their devices. They have already started this effort by using said materials for parts like the haptic engine, etc.
    • Carbon Neutrality: They have committed to achieving carbon neutrality by the year 2030. This basically means they are balancing or getting rid of any direct or indirect carbon emissions they are responsible for.
    • Renewable Energy: Most of Apple’s operations are run on renewable sources of energy due to their investments in space. Also, their production / manufacturing is also set to be run 100% on renewable sources by the year 2030.
    • Other highlights include R&D on Chemicals, Material Supply-Chains, and much more. Take a look at the countless in-depth reports on their environment page if you’re curious :)

    Late last year, Apple did something that caused a bit of a stir in the industry. For ‘the environment’, they decided to put an end to including the power adapter and earphones in the box of their entire line of iPhones (basically all models that are still being sold). This does make sense to a certain extent as it reduces the footprint of the box, increases logistical efficiency, reduces the need for unnecessary production, and most importantly, will (sadly) mean other companies will follow suit (like Samsung and Xiaomi already have!). The peculiar thing is that Apple has made a huge experiential trade-off because of this move since their customers will probably need to buy a new power adapter as the cable inside the box is USB-C to Lightning, that’s a problem considering USB-C adapters are still not mainstream. So sometimes there is a loose end or two in the decisions Apple makes for their sustainability efforts. (In-Depth Discussion)


    (Sources: [Infographic] Unwrapping the Galaxy S10’s Eco-Friendly Packaging, Samsung Electronics to Replace Plastic Packaging with Sustainable Materials, [Interview] Galaxy S20 Designers Discuss Making the Smartphone Experience More Sustainable)

    Samsung was actually the reason I wanted to write this thread. I first realized sustainability in tech was becoming more of a public interest when I saw how they made the packaging more sustainable for their S10 Series. They switched to 100% plastic-free packaging by using paper and pulp-based materials for their packaging. If you look at the volume of phones Samsung sells worldwide, that's definitely making a difference. Furthermore, they’ve committed to using only certified paper packaging for their products.


    Here's a little bit of hyprocrisy from Samsung's PR team ;) https://twitter.com/GadgetsBoy/status/1309781124378484736?s=19

    (Source: https://www.razer.com/eu-en/go-green-with-razer)

    Razer is the most recent company I could find making pledges and raising awareness surrounding sustainability. Like Samsung, they have committed to switching to only paper packaging and other sustainable materials by 2025 for all their products.

    As e-sports is exponentially growing every year, I am happy that a company with a strong position in the industry like Razer has shared these intentions of sustainability publicly with their #GoGreenwithRazer campaigns.

    Although I do think the most recent effort of selling plushies to plant trees is a bit unusual (the plushie is made out of polyester)

    (Source: 2019 sustainability report)

    OnePlus has been a bit more private but still involved in sustainable practices behind the scenes such as working on the packaging. Citing the famous two-word mantra, Never Settle, I’d like to propose a few ideas to make OnePlus an industry example for sustainability:

    1. It would be really great if OnePlus could make public announcements about any actions they are taking for accountability from the community
    2. Make an effort to raise more awareness within the community. With community support, any action would be more impactful and also lead to (hopefully) a positive change in their personal lives.
    3. Develop real, actionable, and measurable sustainability goals like the companies above have.
    4. Continue partnering with organizations such as WWF for CSR Efforts. The “Adopt a Tree” campaign is a great example of how amazing and memorable proper partnerships can be!


    If all tech companies focus on just Product Longevity, Material Sourcing, CSR, and aligning internal goals with the Sustainable Development Goals set for 2030 they are well on their way to being seen as a company that is making an effort to do their part for the environment.

    If you made it to the end, I hope you enjoyed this new topic for the forums. I’ll continue the “Why It Matters” series in future threads so we can have a healthy discussion of things that aren’t normally discussed on the forums!

    As always, I’d like to ask the community if you’re taking any steps to live more sustainably in your personal lives? And if you have any questions about the topic of sustainability, drop ‘em below and I’ll answer anything I can!

  2. Oliver Z.
    Head of Product Staff Member Feb 25, 2021

    Stickied Post
    Oliver Z. , Feb 25, 2021 :
    Hi @suhantm,

    As OnePlus’ Head of Product, I’d like to thank you for addressing a topic that is very dear to us. At OnePlus we are wholeheartedly supportive of the concept of sustainable development and have been tirelessly working at implementing measures to achieve it.
    However, I want to start by saying that some of the practices across the industry, touted as protecting the environment, often aren’t as effective as led to believe. For example, changing to all-paper packaging is costly, but has a low environmental value; wireless charging is also sometimes sold as an environmentally friendly option, with completely neglect the energy loss – that comes from this technology’s power energy.

    You mention Apple – and rightfully so – as an industry leader in this regard. The main reason for their success is their tight strong control over the entire supply chain. This allows them to impose restrictions on suppliers and require them to take certain environmental protection measures in many products, which is considerably more difficult for others in the industry to implement, especially at a smaller scale.

    That’s not to say that we shouldn’t think about environmental protection. On the contrary, it’s something that must be done, but through impactful measures that create a truly positive outcome, not just on paper.

    A while back, we looked into using car exhaust emissions as an alternative source for graphite. While definitely something that can grab some headlines, the impact of this measure is considerably low, while representing a very high cost. It’s a high-cost low-value action that may be good for PR, but do you think it’s genuinely good for the environment? Do you see this is as a correct implementation of sustainable development?

    From a product perspective, we’ve been working on several fronts that, while not necessarily flashy, do improve on the environment sustainability in the long run:
    • We have been sourcing environmentally friendly materials for our smartphones packaging and continuously working on improving their proportion.
    • From an after-sales perspective, all e-waste generated from defective parts is carefully handled through professional environmental protection treatment.
    • Our industrial design also has environmental protection in mind, namely through metal recyclability.
    We’ll also be paying close attention to this thread, to see what the key takeaways from this discussion are. We can’t wait to see what the community comes up with. We’ll also review the suggestions you made on this thread, @suhantm, and discuss them internally to see what can be done.

  3. Q1613123931673
    Gingerbread Feb 25, 2021

  4. Navdeep_Malik
    Jelly Bean Feb 25, 2021

    Navdeep_Malik , Feb 25, 2021 :
    And then nobody is bothered by unnecessary carbon footprint generated by recently enabled 2160p on youtube! For 1080p devices

  5. dsmonteiro
    Community Consultant Staff Member Feb 25, 2021

    dsmonteiro , Feb 25, 2021 :
    Playing the devil's advocate here, but why would it be bad? Why not give the user's the choice at least? I lost count on the number of cables and chargers I have lying at home.

    I've mentioned this a couple of times before when talking about bundled-earphones, but the same logic applies. I have headphones that are worth 200€, that sound amazing. Why would I want to get earphones with a new smartphone that:
    • are worse than the ones I have?
    • make the phone more expensive?
    • make the package bigger?
    • waste finite resources?
    As a consumer, I say "let the user choose".

    Still, there's a case to be made about not including accessories. If users end up buying them separately, the waste might even be bigger than if you don't. When you buy a phone without a charger and then buy it separately, there's more packaging materials and instructions, there's a bigger transport carbon footprint. Logistics would have to adapt to ship according to the users' needs which is certainly easier said than done.

  6. DarshanMeniya
    Jelly Bean Feb 25, 2021

  7. Dresa91
    User of the Year 2016; Most Active User 2020 Feb 25, 2021

    Dresa91 , Feb 25, 2021 :

    Helder_DAlmeida likes this.
  8. Auristic
    Lollipop Feb 25, 2021

    Auristic , Feb 25, 2021 :
    At first I thought Xiaomi's policy was better, giving the user the choice to get a charger or not at the same price but in Europe they only deliver Mi 11 with a charger...

    Dresa91 and McJader like this.
  9. dsmonteiro
    Community Consultant Staff Member Feb 25, 2021

    dsmonteiro , Feb 25, 2021 :
    If the price is the same regardless of shipping the device with or without the charger, you're paying for the charger. :D

    And that still leads to people getting it just because. There's really no right or wrong answer here, though.

    drl431, luxuskamel, MRTLima and 9 others like this.
  10. Yash Pratap Singh.
    KitKat Feb 25, 2021

    Yash Pratap Singh. , Feb 25, 2021 :
    Basic steps like reusing Aqua filter water, using paper or jute bags instead of polythene bags are common in households nowadays.
    OnePlus independently has taken good steps to ensure minimum waste generation, but tying up with third party sellers and logistics needs to be looked into.
    For example, Mobitech Creations Private Limited. which is the importer for OnePlus india uses only one type of packaging for all tech/non-tech products, and this leads to a lot of cardboard wastage, for example, my free oneplus bottle came in a large cardboard box -
    Instead, they could've just given a wrapped bottle box without the extra cardboard box with the plastic foam taped around the sides/edges.

    Coming to chargers, I think that its not upto the company to make assumptions if users want chargers. It should be the choice of the user whether they require it or not.

    Anyways, great thread @suhantm some interesting research done by you!😁

  11. camohan
    Moderator Moderator Feb 25, 2021

    camohan , Feb 25, 2021 :
    Are you saying OnePlus is devil?

  12. Drasm19
    Honeycomb Feb 25, 2021

    Drasm19 , Feb 25, 2021 :
    *Please let this not be another corporate whitewash to make millions*


    Three things:

    Let the consumer decide.
    1) If they need the charger, let them get it along with the device they purchase.

    2) if they don't need the charger, encourage them for their good deed by giving them discount on the MRP of the device (MRP - Price of the charger).

    3) Instead of getting in the trenches with the likes of Apple and Samsung, put your money where your mouth is!

    Co-operate with some NGOs that work on projects designed to reduce carbon footprint or works on afforestation projects.
    It would be nice if a minor portion of the profits from the device went into planting trees all over the world.

    Imagine how thrilled the customer would be to know that with every device he/she purchases, a tree is getting planted somewhere on the planet.

    That is real change.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2021

  13. Yash Pratap Singh.
    KitKat Feb 25, 2021

    Yash Pratap Singh. , Feb 25, 2021 :
    Hmm, this thread is written by a fellow community member who's a user like you and me, so no "corporate whitewash"

  14. Abhishek654
    Ice Cream Sandwich Feb 25, 2021

    Abhishek654 , Feb 25, 2021 :
    By the exclusion of a charger, Apple could successfully force people to buy a new charger. When Apple removed the headphone jack, the sales of Lightning to 3.5 mm headphone jack adapter boomed. This also helped the sales of AirPods, which were released alongside the iPhone 7. The same is expected to happen this year. A lightning to USB cable costs $29 (for 2m) and $19 (for 1m)(The prices are almost the same for USB-C to lightning, except that the 2m long wire costs $35). An 18W power brick costs $29 (You’ll need to pay more for faster chargers). So, a person who has damaged his cable, or power brick, or both, would have to pay an additional sum of money. Buying a wireless charger is also expensive. This decision would help Apple increase its profits even more.


  15. Cheetosdust
    Starting Point Expert Community Expert Feb 25, 2021

    Cheetosdust , Feb 25, 2021 :
    As a whole, sustainability is crucial moving forward. I do believe that sooner or later, we’ll have to do something about it. Hopefully, sooner.

    The problem so far is that companies are already using “sustainability” as a buzzword. It doesn’t matter where you look, I feel like caring about the planet should be about caring.

    Look, it feels like so far, all the steps are another way to get a) own profit; b) marketing; c) both.

    Perhaps the true discussion about sustainability will start when regulators lay down the law. I am sure a lot of fans/customers are willing to participate in this, just don’t make them pay the full bill.

  16. pkg3107
    Honeycomb Feb 25, 2021

    pkg3107 , via OnePlus Nord Gray Onyx , Feb 25, 2021 :
    I personally believe that there should be an option to include charger, earphones etc. or not... Like if I have the charger with the same specs, so I personally don't like piling up cables.

    One more thing is that can be a pre-installed software, which manages all the bills, manuals, chargers and FAQs in the device.

    One more thing is that instead of including User Manual, a barcode or QR code should be included. The minimum paperwork should be present in the box, according to local and international rules and regulations.

    These steps should be useful to reduce Carbon Footprints, if someone wants to "in real".

    Adesh.sanmukh, MRTLima and Dresa91 like this.
  17. dsmonteiro
    Community Consultant Staff Member Feb 25, 2021

    dsmonteiro , Feb 25, 2021 :
    I agree, but in most cases that might not be legal, unfortunately.

  18. Drasm19
    Honeycomb Feb 25, 2021

    Drasm19 , Feb 25, 2021 :
    Ads are getting smarter these days.

    It's hard to know who works for whom.

    In general, I'm tired of seeing apple get their way and other brands following them like sheeps.


  19. Tobikage
    Nougat Feb 25, 2021

  20. Dresa91
    User of the Year 2016; Most Active User 2020 Feb 25, 2021

    Dresa91 , Feb 25, 2021 :
    Let the customer decide.
    You can use some additional check boxes for in- or excluding accessories in the order process: charger, cable, earphones, case.
    If I need the new charger, I could check the check box.
    If I check nothing, I will only get the phone.

  21. Cheetosdust
    Starting Point Expert Community Expert Feb 25, 2021

    Cheetosdust , Feb 25, 2021 :
    In this case, @suhantm is part of the Writers' Club - a group of members who create content for the forums. They are in no way associated with OnePlus.

    You can or cannot believe these words, but the whole purpose of this thread is not to prepare something, but to discuss what's on the table - "Sustainability In Tech". ;)

    But that's a whole different conversation. We can even discuss it in a different thread, including why so many Android OEMs make fun of Apple decisions just to copy them weeks/months later. :)