On April 19, 2022, the multinational technology company Apple released its annual Environmental Progress Report, in which they highlighted the increased use of recycled content across their products. According to this report, nearly 20 percent of all materials used in Apple products in 2021 was recycled, making Apple the world’s most sustainable corporation.
The company also announced its newest technological innovation, Taz, a recycling machine which utilizes new shredder-like technology to separate magnets from audio modules and thus recover more rare earth elements. The use of Taz, together with that of the recycling robot Daisy, has helped Apple make significant progress in the recycling of older materials. In 2021, 59 percent of all the aluminum used in Apple’s products came from recycled sources, with many products featuring up to 100 percent recycled aluminum. Moreover, since 2015, Apple has also reduced plastics from its packaging by 75 percent, making major progresses toward the company’s goal to completely eliminate packaging plastics by 2025.
In 2021, Apple products included 45 percent certified recycled rare earth elements, 30 percent recycled tin, and 13 percent recycled cobalt. Moreover, for the first time in the company’s history, they used recycled gold in the plating of the main logic board and wire in the front and rear cameras of products such as iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro.
Recovering more materials for use in future products will significantly help reduce mining. For instance, from just one metric ton of iPhone components disassembled by Apple’s recycling robots, engineers can recover the amount of gold and copper typically extracted from 2,000 metric tons of mined rocks. Moreover, the company is also committed to extending the lifetime of their products through refurbishment, which will also significantly reduce the need for future mining.
“As people around the world join in celebrating Earth Day, we are making real progress in our work to address the climate crisis and to one day make our products without taking anything from the earth,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives. “Our rapid pace of innovation is already helping our teams use today’s products to build tomorrow’s, and as our global supply chain transitions to clean power, we are charting a path for other companies to follow.”