Compare and Recycle

The Green Credentials of the iPhone Keep Getting Better

We heard Apple say during their announcement that a lot of their devices are using recycled materials and that 100 percent of the aluminium alloy used in the latest Macbook and Mac mini is from recycled materials, but what has Apple done for their number one selling product? Read out to find out what we have dissected from their environmental reports.

Daisy Pulling Her Weight

We have expressed admiration before for Daisy’s ability to disassemble 1.2 million devices as a considerable effort on the part of Apple, and it is great to see that this output has resulted in real usage in the Apple manufacturing process.

Details About the New and Improved Taptic Engine

There has been a lot of emphasis on the all new 'Taptic Engine' on the iPhone 11. The taptic engine is the little motor that recreates the feeling of a button press. With leaks and its own code name, many sites were scrambling to figure out what this new improvement was likely to be.

As it turns out, there was not a functionality improvement at all. The update to the taptic engine is that it has been built using 100% recycled rare earth material. In fact, the taptic engine represents about 25% of the total rare earth elements used in the product.

What’s more impressive is Apple’s step to start using recycled rare earth elements in their new iPhones, and whilst they are using an unnamed third party supplier to provide these rare materials as opposed to their own recovery processes, it is a step in the right direction from the real pacesetters in electronics’ green credentials.

Many Benefits of Moving to Recycled Materials

It makes sense that reusing recovered materials is better for the environment than relying on virgin elements that need resource and labour intensive processes to mine, as well as the irreparable damage that it does to the landscapes and the surrounding wildlife.

Using third party companies is not something to sniff at either, especially if it encourages companies to use their own recycling and recovery projects to bid for what would be some of the more lucrative contracts. Apple promise to hold suppliers accountable and ensure they use ethical business practices, such as encouraging suppliers to move to green energy and providing educational opportunities for their employees.

Better Use of Plastics

Apple has committed to increasing the amount of renewable and recycled plastics as an alternative from fossil fuel-based plastics. They state that the plastics used in the iPhone 11 range of devices are made using 35% or more recycled plastic.

Recycled Tin

The solder on the motherboards is sourced using recycled tin. The main logic board uses tin to keep the connections in place and this is built by using recycled materials. If Apple can keep crossing off more elements at a time, then the iPhone will become more sustainable with every release.

Improving the Supply Chain

This move makes sense for Apple in the long term, with increased tensions between the United States and China. With trade deals starting to favour the environmentally responsible, these moves and relationships could start a new wave of companies using renewable energy to recover rare materials from old electronics in a way that they can then be sold back to the tech giants, much like this ‘unnamed supplier’ for the taptic engine.

Andrew Marchant

See more posts by Andrew Marchant

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