Recently, I ordered from Vancouver, Canada, a new iPad mini together with a ‘iPad Mini Smart Cover” to Apple Online store. The electronic invoice included UPS shipping tracking. Then the iPad and its cover started their journey from …. China. You would imagine that Apple will have a warehouse full of iPad in Vancouver or somewhere in North America? Actually, the iPad is shipped from Shanghai by air and the cover from Shenzhen, 1,200 Km south of Shanghai. The 2 items will thus be air shipped individually.
The iPad arrived quite fast, in a couple of days but the cover took a week. Looking at the UPS tracking explains why.
The package was shipped from Shenzhen to Hong Kong, then from Hong Kong to Korea, then to Anchorage, Alaska, then to Louisville, Kentucky in the East (ignoring the fact that Vancouver, like Hong Kong and Anchorage is on the Pacific, and flying over Vancouver on its way to Eastern US see picture), then the package went North to Buffalo, NY, then to further North to Mount Hope, Canada , then turned West to Calgary, Alberta to finally find Vancouver Airport, back on the Pacific ocean. Finally, it went from the airport to a central UPS warehouse and from there to my home.
So, this precious little package traveled 17,587 km from the hands of a factory worker in China to clip on my iPad.
What a waste of energy to save on labour not mentioning the huge GHG content of this little item. The ‘smart’ cover is …well.. a cover, which comes is a plastic/cardboard package (another cover), itself wrapped in a plastic cover plus a foam protection cover and the whole is in shipping grade cardboard cover. Like a russian doll. (See picture).
The smart cover is designed to be as light as possible but the shipping package weights 300 gr. Applying typical shipping emission factors to the whole trip and the final package, I calculated a total CO2 equivalent emission (for transportation alone) of 2,888 grams or 10 x the weight of the package and about 30 x the weight of the cover itself. For comparison, cement manufacturers which are considered as some of the most GHG-intensive industry produces 1 tonne of CO2 per tonne of cement – thus a factor 1 . But the Apple ‘smart’ cover is a factor 30. Not so smart, after all. Neither eco-friendly, nor socially responsible.