Apple Pledges to Use Recycled Cobalt Metal in iPhones by 2025 16/05/23

By Holly, Mozillion Team

Reducing the impact of mobile tech on the environment

As dutifully as we sort our recycling at home each week, we all know that it is the big companies that are also going to need to change the way they do things, if we want to start undoing all the damage mankind has inflicted on our habitat.

Thankfully, Apple is one of the tech giants that has recognised that it can make drastic improvements (and actually save lives) by pledging to only use recycled cobalt in batteries for iPhones and other electronics, by 2025.

Reducing the need to mine materials from the earth by reusing existing elements and materials is one of the biggest shifts tech companies can make in helping to protect the planet.

Within the same timeframe, Apple will also only use recycled rare earth elements in magnets, and recycled tin and gold in circuit boards. Interestingly, Apple already sources most of its aluminium, rare earth elements, and nearly all tungsten from recycled material which considering the size of its market share, has a huge impact.

​​“Our ambition is to use 100% recycled and renewable materials and our goal is to have carbon-neutral products by 2030. We’re working toward both goals with urgency and advancing innovation across our entire industry” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives.

Aside from the environmental impact of continually pillaging the earth for more resources then dumping the same materials as e-waste into landfill where it then leaches into soil and water, there is also a human cost. Shockingly, child labour is still used in the Democratic Republic of Congo by some firms to extract cobalt from open mines.

Tom Williams co-founder of tech refurbishment company ‘Spring’ said the Apple announcement was “an important first step but more must still be done to reach a truly circular and sustainable consumer tech economy”.

“Unless all finite resources are sourced sustainably, the consumer tech industry won’t be able to exist in the future. We hope that this is a wake-up call for other brands such as Samsung and Google. Apple accounts for less than a quarter of the total global market share. Without industry-wide commitments fully sustainable consumption isn’t realistic”

A circular economy calls for product durability, reuse, remanufacturing and recycling, and favours activities that preserve value in the form of energy, labour, and materials. This basically means that the take, take, take model that some companies use at the moment will have to come to an end before we end up in a Lorax situation…and we all know how that turns out.