In its most recent Environmental Responsibility Report, Apple outlined its goal to stop mining minerals or digging up new resources for its products. In the document, the tech company says that it plans to move to a closed-loop manufacturing system “one day,” but as of now, it is not sure how to get to that point.
Apple vows to end mining ‘one day’
Apple has one of the best recycling and aggressive sustainability programs, but it still digs up a large amount of toxic rare-earth materials and metals to make MacBooks, iPads, iPhones and other products. Now the smartphone maker will be taking several steps to end its dependency on mining rare minerals and become the first big tech company to use only recycled rare earth, metals and other minerals.
In an interview with Vice News, Lisa Jackson, Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, said that the company is committed to not necessarily digging up everything they need. The tech giant said it is working on a “closed-loop supply chain” that will enable it to stop digging for rare minerals and metals.
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On its updated Environment site, the iPhone maker says that one day it would like to be able to “build new products with just recycled materials, including your old products.” But the tech giant does not yet have a roadmap to fulfill this promise. Speaking to this, Jackson told Vice News that they are doing something that they rarely do, which she explains is announcing a goal before completely figuring it out how to do it.
“We’re a little nervous, but we also think it’s really important, because as a sector we believe it’s where technology should be going,” Jackson told.
Apple has schemes in place
Apple, however, says that it does have schemes in place for materials. The company depends on old devices for aluminum, and it is content to a use a more general supply for tin. The iPhone maker said that the recycled material from other products and sources completes its quality standards for tin, notes The Verge. But for aluminum, only old Apple devices meet its standards.
Apple has created “Material Risk Profiles” to list priority materials. The company studies the social and environment impact of obtaining the various materials that it uses, and then weighs those profiles against how it used the materials, how frequently were they used in devices, and where they could mark the biggest difference.
Apple will also invest more in technologies like Liam, a robot that breaks iPhones into components, and increase its efforts in the Apple Renew recycling program.
Apple’s Environmental Responsibility Report also talks of its other accomplishments. About 96% of the power used by its facilities worldwide comes from clean energy sources, and 100% of the electricity that powers its data centers comes from wind, hydro and solar energy sources. The Silicon Valley tech company currently has seven suppliers that have committed to using renewable energy.