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Apple Makes Ambitious Recycling Pledge

Apple has made a pledge to produce all of its electronic devices from entirely renewable or recycled materials.

The goal was set out in the company’s 2017 Environment Responsibility Report, where the technology giant said it hopes to use recycled material in its devices, and to one day stop mining the earth altogether.

Currently only a small percentage of the technology used in an iPhone comes from recycled materials, but Apple hopes to one day use materials such as aluminum, tin, copper and other elements that come from previously used sources.
Apple’s goal is not only for iPhones; the company hopes to only use recycled materials for all of its products, which include MacBooks, iPads and AirPods.

In its report, which was issued last week, the company said that it will require many years of collaboration across multiple teams, suppliers, and retailers, but work is well underway towards its pledge for a closed-loop supply chain “where products are built using only renewable resources or recycled materials.”

The company said it already has programs in place to enable the responsible sourcing of minerals, metals and other finite materials used in its products.

Apple’s head of environmental policy, Lisa Jackson, has admitted that the company does not yet know when or how it will achieve this goal. She told Vice News, “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.”

David Adams, Managing Director of Clarity Environmental, said: “The production of smartphones is reliant on precious and rare earth metals and finite materials, and at the end of their lives they present a challenge for safe and efficient recycling. There is increasing pressure, and need, to improve the recycling capabilities of this technology and extend the lifespan of these products. This is an ambitious goal from Apple, but an important move for the technology industry and for our environment.”

James Dorrell of Creative Bloom, added: “It’s vitally important that companies specify recycled materials as this will, in turn, drive higher levels of collection or separation as reprocessors will need to meet the demand. I welcome Apple’s move. In an era of reduced operational life of electronic products, e-waste must be addressed and we would encourage Apple’s next move to consider a more modular design. Technology is moving so fast that upgrades are a part of the process. But if upgrades could simply be slotted in, for example the latest retina screen, then it would no longer be necessary to scrap entire units, reducing material demand in the future.”

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