Project 2

iPhone Scenarios

Wages Data Analysis

For the first question, I think the Wisconsin Foxconn plant will definitely increase the cost of iPhone due to these factors. The first one is wage, as the chart above which illustrate the wage of a Foxconn worker, a Wisconsin worker is paid more than 11 times than a Chinese worker, the Foxconn have to paid 4200 dollars for each Wisconsin worker.The consequence is the productivity of Wisconsin plant must decrease, even drastically decrease.As it is written in the New York Times “The iEconomy: How Much Do Foxconn Workers Make?”, it states although a Chinese worker usually work till they reach the legal maximum overtime, which is 36 hours a week more, they only get about 360 dollars per month. In other words, Chinese Foxconn workers work nearly 15 hours per day. Nevertheless, in Wisconsin is a totally different situation. Based upon the chart above, Therefore, the productivity will drastically decrease due to the reduce of working hours, which make the cost of an iPhone way much higher, even ift the added cost of new electronic components are not counted

The second point is the working environment. Foxconn China have dorm room for workers to maximize their working hours. However, in Wisconsin due to the local policies and the high wages, the Foxconn may not extend the working hours as they do in China.

What is more, as Sarah Westwood’s states in her article “ Trump unveils Foxconn investment creating 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin” , which posted on Washington Examiner, “ the official said the Foxconn deal ‘has the potential over time to grow to as many as 13,000 jobs’.” According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Dice.com, Tech-industry unemployment hit 2.0 down from 2.4 percent in April because “Computer and electronic-product manufacturing gained 500 jobs in April, while technology consulting added 7,300 positions”. Based upon these information, we can estimate that 13,000 jobs at least can make the unemployment rate drop one percent. For the state of Wisconsin, 13,000 jobs is a really big deal.

The other point is, for Wisconsin, how can they deal with the sudden influx of labors? For Foxconn China, they built dorm rooms for workers. Building dorm rooms could help solve the problems of being late for work and the extra expense of living. Also, the state could open several new bus routines for workers from towns nearby to Foxconn plants. Unemployment rate in 2016:


Photo by Crown Agency on Unsplash
Environmental Impacts of iPhone Production

One of Apple’s biggest problems when it comes to environmental sustainability is their carbon footprint. Manufacturing iPhones and other Apple products releases millions of tons of greenhouse gases per year. “During fiscal year 2014, the company reported total greenhouse gas emissions of 34.2 million metric tons. Out of that, 24.8 million metric tons came from manufacturing, while just 0.4 million came from the company’s other facilities, such as its offices and stores.” The physical production of iPhones themselves is on of the biggest environmental impacts.

Since the yearly releases of newer iPhones, there are only a few people who recycle their old devices. “A 2014 study from the United Nations University, the UN’s research arm, estimated that less than 16% of e-waste is recycled.” This results in creating electronic waste which then “goes into landfills or is shipped to developing countries to be taken apart to reclaim the metals held within” Unfortunately if these metals are handled improperly, “heavy metals such as cobalt or tungsten will leach into groundwater and cause adverse health effects.” According to Sue Williams, filmmaker and director of Death by Design, “There’s no way of getting rid of a heavy metal”. When heavy metals are burned, they then “add to the atmospheric pollution that scientists say is contributing to climate change”.

Apple’s focus on aesthetic with fragile glass screens impacts iPhone sales and the environment. The fragility of iPhones impacts the environment because devices are difficult to repair and consumers are forced to buy new iPhones. According to New York state Senator Phil Boyle, this leads to an accumulation of apple products in landfills that are difficult to recycle.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash
Strategies to Make iPhones More Sustainable

Greenpeace proposes that apple could “make devices that last longer and are easier to repair”. If these products were designed to last longer or were recyclable their global footprint would be significantly smaller. Apple is known to have devices which are harder to repair. “In its quest for beauty, Apple is championing marketing while ignoring the long-term experience customers have with the iPhone”, while also negatively impacting the planet. By creating a more durable screen or by “release its schematics”, broken products could be recycled / utilized in other products. Apple’s secrecy and stubbornness to release information about how to repair their products benefits themselves economically.. “When companies control how your gadgets are repaired, they stand to profit” while adding to the buildup of e-waste. When Iphones are taken to third party repair shops, errors often destroy the consumers phone including “Error 53” — “the now infamous code” making it useless. Apple truly forces consumers to either repair their phone for up to $170 or but a new one (increasing iphone sales), both which add to the accumulation of more broken phones.

The reason why iPhone production and Apple products as a whole leave such a big carbon footprint behind is that their manufacturing is done in China. “Much of the electricity currently produced in China comes from coal, which is the most carbon-intensive fuel. Moving away from that as soon as possible is an important goal for any company that’s serious about reducing the pace and magnitude of global warming. Moving towards solar power and more green ways to produce electricity rather than coal to reduce the company’s carbon footprint.”

“Apple rejects current industry best practices by forcing the recyclers it works with to shred iPhones and MacBooks so they cannot be repaired or reused — instead, they are turned into tiny shards of metal and glass. The pieces are then sorted into commodities grade materials. After sorting, the materials are sold and used for production stock in new products. No reuse. No parts harvesting. No resale.” There is no “reuse/reduce/recycle” system going on when old products are not being properly recycled at all.

To make the iPhone more sustainable, Apple’s newer iPhones consist of less harmful elements than before. “Apple most recently removed beryllium from the iPhone, as well as removing benzene and n-hexene (linked to leukemia and nerve damage respectively) from final assembly lines in their factories.” It is also important to keep in mind how these devices are discarded to prevent harmful chemicals from, “leaching into groundwater, or harm unknowing workers scavenging for precious metals like gold also contained inside.” Apple then created a program called “Apple Renew Program” that customers can send their old devices to.

Like what you read? Give Cultural Concerns — Art 80F a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.