Apple is pledging to end its reliance on mining minerals altogether and make iPhones, iPad, Macs and other devices entirely out of recycled materials, just not yet.
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According to Apple’s 2017 Environment Responsibility Report [PDF] released this week, the company is challenging itself to “one day end our reliance on mining altogether.”
“We believe our goal should be a closed-loop supply chain, where products are built using only renewable resources or recycled material. We already have programs in place to ensure the finite materials we use in our products are sourced responsibly through strict standards and programs on the ground that drive positive change. We’re also challenging ourselves to one day end our reliance on mining altogether.”
Note however Apple’s use of the phrase, “one day.”
In an interview with Vice, Apple’s VP of environment, policy, and social initiatives Lisa Jackson explained why Apple is announcing this goal before actually knowing how to accomplish it:
“We’re actually doing something we rarely do, which is announce a goal before we’ve completely figured out how to do it. So 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.”
One of the tools that Apple hopes will help it achieve this goal is its iPhone-dismantling robot, Liam. One Liam is capable of disassembling 1.2 million iPhone 6 units in a year. This allows Apple to recover 1,900kg of aluminum, 550kg of cobalt, 800kg of copper, 2.5kg of tantalum, and 0.3kg of gold from every 100,000 iPhones that are dismantled.
Apple has already made huge strides in using renewable energy in its data centers:
“All of our data centers operate on 100 percent renewable energy and power billions of iMessages, answers from Siri, and song downloads from iTunes. That means no matter how much data they handle, there is a zero greenhouse gas emissions impact from their electricity use.”