Apple have stated that they are working on one day building their products from 100% recycled materials. More importantly, the company says that it hopes to manufacture devices without having to mine the earth for resources like cobalt and coltan altogether.
“Traditional supply chains are linear. Materials are mined, manufactured as products, and often end up in landfills after use. Then the process starts over and more materials are extracted from the earth for new products. We believe our goal should be a closed-loop supply chain, where products are built using only renewable resources or recycled material.” said Apple in their 2017 Environment Responsibility Report.
“We’re also challenging ourselves to one day end our reliance on mining altogether. To start, we’re encouraging more customers to recycle their old devices through Apple Renew. And we’re piloting innovative new recycling techniques, like our line of disassembly robots, so we can put reclaimed materials to better use in new products.”
This is quite an ambitious goal, as Apple have acknowledged, but welcome nonetheless given how Apple and other electronics manufacturers have been embroiled in child-labour claims in reference to the mines from which Apple sources their cobalt and coltan in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
As part of trying to make the goal of manufacturing products from 100% recycled materials a reality, Apple say they will be starting with aluminium, "For aluminum, we found that one of the best sources of recycled material was our own products and processes. This is because we specify such a high grade of the material—it’s part of what makes our products so strong and durable. Today, the only way to keep aluminum at this level of quality is to keep a clean material stream—not to mix it with existing scrap aluminum, which is what typically happens at recycling facilities. Our challenge is to recover the aluminum from our products without
degrading its quality."
Using 100% recycled materials for manufacturing products is not the only focus for Apple, the company says it has identified three priority areas where it believes it can make the biggest difference:
Reducing their impact on climate change by using renewable energy sources and driving energy efficiency in their products and facilities.
Conserving precious resources so "we all can thrive".
Pioneering the use of safer materials in their products and processes.
Apple also talks about its efforts in renewable energy and also discusses climate change in their
2017 Environment Responsibility Report.
Cover Image: Liam is a line of robots that disassembles iPhone 6 into individual components, making it easier to recover finite resources such as aluminum, tungsten, and cobalt. | Apple Inc.