Tech giant pledges to end mining and use recycled materials

The world's largest technology company has vowed to stop mining the Earth and rely exclusively on recycled materials to make its iPhones, iPads, and other electronic equipment, as announced this week in its 2017 Environment Responsibility Report.

Apple has been encouraging customers to return used products for recycling and has melted down iPhone aluminum enclosures to make mini computers used in its factories.

To solve this part of the equation, Apple is now committing to a closed-loop supply chain.

Apple's report says that "when there are materials for which recycling technologies don't yet exist, we'll need to invest in research and other technology solutions".

Earlier this month, the British designer of graphical processing units used in smartphones said its largest customer would stop using its technology within 15 to 24 months, causing the stock to lose almost two thirds of its value in a single day.

ADI, Broadcom, Cirrus Logic, Cypress, NXP, Qualcomm, STMicroelectronics and TI are reportedly among Apple's chip suppliers for the 2017 series of iPhones. "This raises expectations for this year's phone having a material change in functionality and look", said Gene Munster, co-founder of Loup Ventures and a veteran Apple analyst.

Apple has often been criticised for using materials from mines in its products.

"We're actually doing something we rarely do, which is announce a goal before we've completely figured out how to do it", Jackson told Vice News.

The challenge the company has set itself is to "one day end our reliance on mining altogether", which would be no small feat.

According to Tech Crunch, Greenpeace thinks that Apple's initiative is not enough.

The catch to these promises right now is that Apple doesn't have a plan for achieving these goals just yet. "I think a product that lasts is really important, and a lot of people buy Apple products because they know they do last", Jackson said.

Of those third-party suppliers, Apple announced that seven will run entirely on renewable energy by the end of 2017, while its own stores, offices and data centres now run on 96% green energy sources - an increase of 3% from 2016. It also shows the location of what is most likely to be the fingerprint scanner beneath the Apple logo - and not included in the Apple logo which some iPhone fans including analyst Carolina Milanesi had raised as a possibility. And for the first time, Apple is protecting enough sustainably managed forests in the USA and in China to "cover all of the packaging [it] use [s] in [its] products".

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