Apple’s 2017 Environmental Responsibility Report, covering fiscal year 2016, states that the company will establish a “closed-loop supply chain” and stop mining the earth altogether in order to make its products from 100 percent renewable or recycled materials, including aluminum, copper, tin and tungsten.
An industry-changing objective, indeed, but Apple has yet to completely figure out how to do it. “One day we’d like to be able to build new products with just recycled materials, including your old products,” said the Cupertino firm.
Acknowledging that climate change is undeniable and that Earth’s resources won’t last forever, Apple asked itself “what we can do about them in every part of our business.”
While iPhone, Apple’s best-selling product, contains only a small amount of recycled material, the company wants to change that and double down on using a combination of recycled metals from suppliers and recycled material from returned Apple products.
“We are committing as a company to not necessarily having to source from the earth for everything that we need,” said Apple. “One day, we’d like to be able to build new products with just recycled materials, including your old products,” Apple writes on its Environment website.
Since last year, Apple has been using its recycling robot Liam, which can disassemble iPhones and extract recyclable materials, including gold and copper from the camera, silver and platinum from the logic board and cobalt and lithium from the battery.
Currently, Apple’s various facilities run almost entirely on renewable energy.
Apple Park, the company’s upcoming massive new headquarters, will run 100 percent on renewable energy. As for the firm’s data centers, those facilities run 100 percent on the electricity which comes from solar, hydro and wind energy sources.
In an interview with VICE, Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social initiatives Lisa Jackson said “it’s where technology should be going.”
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.
Letting users fix their Apple gear themselves “sounds like an easy thing to say,” she added, but technology is really complex and they want to ensure that you have “security and privacy and that somebody isn’t giving you bad parts.”
Three years ago, the company committed to make all of its facilities run entirely on renewable energy. Today, they’re 96 percent of the way toward that goal, up from 93 percent last year.
99+ percent of Apple product packaging uses materials sourced from protected sustainable forests. “We are now protecting and creating enough sustainably managed forests in China and the United States to cover all of Apple’s product packaging needs,” reads the report.
Seven major Apple suppliers have pledged to use renewable energy in their own facilities by the end of 2018. The Cupertino company has promised to help its suppliers bring 4 gigawatts of renewable power online by 2020.