Recycling Rare Earths in New iPhones to Reduce Electronic Waste Improves...

Recycling Rare Earths in New iPhones to Reduce Electronic Waste Improves...
Recycling Rare Earths in New iPhones to Reduce Electronic Waste Improves...

France Media AgencyOct 14, 2020 09:49:47 AM

Apple announced Tuesday that its latest iPhones will be made from recycled rare earth materials as part of a stepped up environmental initiative that also has a geopolitical impact.

As part of a series of sustainability measures, Apple announced that the move will build on previous initiatives, including a commitment to become “100 percent carbon neutral” in all aspects of its business.

Apple’s chief environmental officer Lisa Jackson said during an online event announcing the new iPhone 12, “For the first time, we are using 100 percent recycled rare earth elements in all magnets, including the camera, haptics and MagSafe (connectors) . ”

The announcement comes amid growing concerns over e-waste from billions of smartphones as consumers switch to new models and growing political tensions over rare earth materials, which are required for many electronic devices.

Activists have raised concerns about the environmental impact of rare earth mining, and some of the materials come from countries cited for labor and human rights violations.

China, the scene of fatal mining accidents, was at the center of its toxic waste dumping in Baotou, Inner Mongolia, as Beijing promoted the global production of rare earth elements.

Amid Sino-US trade tensions, China has threatened to cut supply of some elements, raising fears of shortages.

According to the US Geological Survey, China has the world’s largest rare earth deposits with 44 million tons of reserves. Vietnam and Brazil each have 22 million tons.

Difficulties with US deposits twice forced the closure of the only US mine in Mountain Pass, California. According to analysts, refining capacity outside of China is limited.

Apple also said it won’t include earbuds or power adapters with the latest iPhones, as most customers already have them. This reduces manufacturing and makes it easier to ship boxes.

Jackson said the move was part of Apple’s efforts to “reduce waste and use fewer materials.”

In July, Apple pledged to be carbon neutral across all of its business, including its manufacturing supply chain, by 2030 to help address climate change more effectively.

The tech giant, which is already carbon neutral for its corporate activities, said the move would have no climate impact on any devices sold.

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