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Apple to use 100 percent recyclable material for its batteries

  • Apple has announced that by 2025, all of its products will use 100 percent recycled cobalt in their batteries.
  • The company will also begin using 100 percent recycled gold, tin and other rare earth elements for circuit boards, magnets and soldering found in its products.
  • Plastic packaging across its range of products will also be eliminated as Apple seeks to hit its 2030 carbon-neutral goals.

As the world’s nations slowly turn the tables on climate change and global warming, Apple has taken new steps into reducing its ewaste footprint.

In a major move by one of the world’s leading tech designers, Apple has announced that it will use 100 percent recycled cobalt in all in house-designed batteries across its products by 2025.

Additionally, the company says that by 2025, magnets in its devices will be made of entirely recycled “rare earth elements.” Further, all Apple-designed printed circuit boards will use 100 percent recycled tin soldering and 100 percent recycled gold plating.

Apple engineers sorting out recyclable materials from old device parts.

Apple VP for Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson shared that the company’s goal is to “one day use 100 percent recycled and renewable materials in our products.” A goal that follows the company’s 2030 mission to achieve carbon-neutral products by the end of the decade.

“We’re working toward both goals with urgency and advancing innovation across our entire industry in the process,” Jackson added.

Why is Apple using cobalt?

Apple says that in 2022, a quarter of all cobalt found in its products was sourced from recycled material, up from 13 percent the year prior.

“Cobalt is a critical material in the batteries used in most consumer electronics, including Apple devices, enabling high energy density while also meeting Apple’s robust standards for longevity and safety,” the company explains.

A chemical element, cobalt is mined and has been widely used in lithium-ion batteries due to high electrochemical performance, meaning it conducts electricity very well.

In recent years the demand for cobalt has risen sharply as consumer electronics requiring batteries become more popular. The growth of electric vehicles has also driven its demand significantly in recent years.

The tech giant uses cobalt in the batteries of iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, MacBook devices, and many other products. These devices and others are disassembled by companies hired by Apple, who then ship the recycled materials back for Apple to reuse in new devices.

In house, the company has innovated new methods to recycle the metal from old devices too. Including “Daisy.” Since 2019, the company estimates that its iPhone disassembly robot “Daisy” has extracted 11 tonnes of cobalt from old devices.

“Daisy” about to recycle a poor iPhone.

Another 2025 commitment outlined by the Cupertino, California company is to “eliminate plastics from the company’s packaging.” Apple will do this through newly developed fibre alternatives for components like screen films, wraps and foam cushioning.

Last year, the company developed a custom printer to introduce digital printing directly onto the boxes of iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro devices, eliminating the need for most plastic labels.

“Every day, Apple is innovating to make technology that enriches people’s lives, while protecting the planet we all share,” said CEO Tim Cook.

“From the recycled materials in our products, to the clean energy that powers our operations, our environmental work is integral to everything we make and to who we are. So we’ll keep pressing forward in the belief that great technology should be great for our users, and for the environment.”

[Image – Apple]

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