"Hello, I'd like to buy one of the new iPhones, please!"
"Sure thing, here's the new iPhone 12. It's fast, beautiful, and is generally awesome."
"Sweet, I'll take it. This box is really small."
"Yup, that's because Apple is making the environmental move to reduce waste and not give you yet another charging brick when you, a loyal Apple customer likely have tons of these already."
"I have bought a new iPhone every 2 years for as long as iPhones have existed, I'm extremely loyal! So I can use one of the half dozen bricks I have in my house already?"
"Well, no, see the included Lightning cable doesn't work with any brick we've shipped with an iPhone except last year's iPhone 11 Pro."
"Ok then, I guess that's fine, I suppose I can use one of the less-frayed cables I have at home to charge this phone."
"Don't get too ahead of yourself, because we have this new charging technology that we think you're going to love: MagSafe. It's wireless charging, but it's faster than previous iPhones and magnets make it more reliable too."
"Fantastic, let's do that. Looks like it's $40 for the puck. That's a bit more, but it sounds cool so let's do it."
"I'll add it to your bag. Now tell me, do you have Apple's 20W USB-C charging brick to use with this? It doesn't come with a charging brick either, and to get the advertised speeds then you need to use that brick. Literally no other charging bricks will get that speed."
"Well, no I don't, in part because you didn't sell that product until today."
"So we'll just add one of those to your bag as well. Now you're getting the full iPhone 12 experience we've been advertising you should want to have!"
"This sounds like it will all work great, but now I have a new phone, two new cables, and one new charging brick, but I didn't get a charging brick with the iPhone because that was supposed to help reduce waste?"
"You got it. Thanks for buying the things our ads say you should buy, and enjoy your new iPhone."
Again, I'm not arguing against corporate initiatives to reduce waste. The theoretical conversation above aims to illustrate how hollow that environmental message can sound to consumers.
Yes, removing the charging brick from each iPhone box will reduce waste, and it will allow Apple to ship more iPhones on fewer planes/trains/trucks. But if you expand your view just a bit, you can really see how none of their other marketing backs up this goal, and in fact runs counter to it. They've introduced a new charging method that is going to get lots of people to buy a new charging brick anyway, they're pushing a wireless charging technology that wastes far more electricity than wired charging, and they have an iPhone Upgrade Program that encourages people to get a new iPhone every 12 months.
None of this is to say I hate Apple or am about to return my iPhone and use Android full time. I'm critical of Apple because I really like the company and I don't think this environmental message holds up as well as I think it should.