Apple has a history of being one of the most environmentally conscious companies, and it’s about to take those efforts a step further. According to Apple’s 2017 Environment Responsibility Report released today, the company’s latest environmental initiative will see it “stop mining the earth altogether.”
“Climate change is undeniable. Earth’s resources won’t last forever. And technology must be safe for people to make and use. We don’t question these realities — we challenge ourselves to ask what we can do about them in every part of our business.”
Apple says that it will start making devices entirely from recycled materials, including aluminum, copper, tin, and tungsten. The issue, however, is that the company doesn’t know how it’s going to do this yet.
“It sounds crazy, but we’re working on it. We’re moving toward a closed-loop supply chain. One day we’d like to be able to build new products with just recycled materials, including your old products.”
Speaking to Vice in an exclusive interview, Apple VP of environment, policy, and social initiatives Lisa Jackson explained that this move is an important one because it’s more about pushing the entire industry towards a goal:
“We’re actually doing something we rarely do, which is announce a goal before we’ve completely figured out how to do it. So we’re a little nervous, but we also think it’s really important, because as a sector we believe it’s where technology should be going.”
Jackson also explained that only a small amount of what’s inside the iPhone right now comes from recycled material. The goal, however, is for Apple to eventually combine high quality recycled metals from suppliers with what’s taken from Apple products returned by consumers. “We are committing as a company to not necessarily having to source from the earth for everything that we need,” Jackson noted.
Apple’s 2017 Environment Responsibility Report also offers a few more tidbits on its environmental process. The company now powers its facilities by 96 percent renewable energy, up from 93 percent last year. Furthermore, Apple says seven of its major suppliers have promised to use renewable energy by the end of next year.
Apple shifting from mining to the use of recycled materials is notable. The company in the past has come under fire for various issues relating to its mining. Just over a year ago, an investigation claimed that Apple’s battery suppliers were using cobalt mined by child labor. It was also reported at one point that Apple was using tin from illegal mines.
Apple’s full 2017 Environment Responsibility Report can be found here.