In contrast to the Guided Cardboard Case, the STM Dux iPad Case has high marks for functionality. It is water resistant, has magnetic closures for auto on/off, fits the iPad Air 2, has impact resistance, and has a case that allows for multiple viewing positions. Unlike the Guided case, the ethical score of the case was harder to determine. Although the company expresses a clear mission “to be green” on its website, some of the labor statements, packaging, and materials used are not necessarily aligned with that mission. Overall, STM is a highly usable device that does not seem to be any more sustainable than your average iPad case.
STM has a written commitment to “meet or exceed local requirements” for labor practices, but there are few details about the company’s labor record or whether meeting local requirements goes far enough. Not all localities have labor practices that ensure livable wages or safe working environments. (I’ll update the labor rating if there is more information received from STM.)
STM uses minimal packaging materials for all of its bags (a small tag), but this is not so for the iPad cases. The cases came with styrofoam inserts and an unnecessary layer of plastic wrapping around each item.
None of the materials, polycarbonate or polyurethane, are naturally occurring or made from post-consumer materials. STM stated the polycarbonate has a low energy consumption for production.
Although STM indicated polycarbonate is 100% recyclable, further investigation reveals it is very difficult to recycle. A consumer in most localities would have to detach the two sections of the device and take them to separate recycling facilities. Residential recycling programs often do not accept either material, increasing the likelihood that the case will end up in the regular trash.