Taking its commitment to save the environment to a brand new level, Apple has become the first company to use recycled rare earth materials in a key component in newly-launched iPhones.
The Cupertino-based iPhone maker used 100 per cent recycled rare earth elements in the Taptic Engine — a component that powers haptic feedback in new iPhones — iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max.
The Taptic Engine represents about 25 per cent of the total rare earth elements used in the latest iPhone 11 models.
“People said it couldn’t be done that you couldn’t use recycled rare earth materials — our new iPhones prove you can,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives.
“Our charge is to do what Apple does with every innovation which is to do things that have never been done before and then use our scale in the marketplace and relationships with suppliers to bring that forward for the world. We’re innovating down to the details,” Jackson elaborated.
This is the first time any recycled rare earth materials have been used in any smartphone.
Following the company’s announcement that it successfully integrated 100 per cent recycled aluminum into MacBook Air last year, Apple expanded it to new products.
The enclosures for iPad and Apple Watch will be made with 100 per cent recycled aluminum for the first time. Starting this year, aluminum recovered through the Apple “Trade In” programme is being remelted into the enclosures for the MacBook Air.
Apple is also using recycled cobalt from iPhone batteries recovered by its disassembly robot “Daisy” combined with scrap from final assembly sites for brand-new Apple batteries.
According to Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of Product Marketing, the iPhones are designed to last a long time.
“We now have the toughest glass of any smartphone on both sides of the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro, there’s double the water resistance, a great track record of ongoing software updates, and we’re highlighting our ‘Trade In’ programme more than ever,” Joswiak informed.
“What we’re doing for the environment starts at the very beginning and it’s what we are thinking about when we’re designing the phone. Environmental responsibility is built into our design and engineering process,” he added.
About 35 per cent or more recycled plastic is present in components in the recently launched iPhones and iPads. In the past two years, Apple has introduced over 100 components with recycled plastic content.
By using more recycled material, Apple is avoiding mining from the earth.
For example, the company’s new product innovations will avoid mining more than 280,000 metric tonnes of aluminum-bearing bauxite and more than 34,000 tons of tin ore over the next year.
In 2017, Apple expanded “Zero Waste to Landfill efforts” to India, with Wistron reaching 100 per cent waste diversion rate in their first year of operation and with the local government also promoting waste segregation in the city to build a “Clean Bengaluru”.
All packaging for new Apple products is also being made with recyclable, majority-fiber materials.
“We’re the only ones in the world doing this work around rare earths in smartphones and it shouldn’t be that way.
“We’re not focused on making environmental progress at the expense of paying more. This isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity to do it the right way,” said Jackson.