Apple has pledged to stop using dubiously mined products in its devices and instead to use renewable resources and recycled material to build its products, where possible. However, it may take several years for the iPhone maker to make good on this pledge.
The company is investigating how it can make its devices 100 per cent recycled, after receiving stinging criticism over the way that it currently mines for materials.
In some mines in Central Africa, for example, it is claimed that young children are used to carry out some of the work, and that the mines are run with little regard for environmental protection. Workers of all ages are forced to work in harsh and dangerous conditions, too, it is claimed.
The Cupertino, California-based company said in its annual environmental report that although it "sounded crazy" to stop mining the earth altogether, Apple is working on it.
"We're moving towards 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," it said.
Currently, only a minority of the materials the company uses are recycled. As part of its research, the company wanted to ensure it could find ways of using recycled aluminium, tin and cobalt.
It found that one of the best sources of recycled aluminium was from its own products and processes, while for tin, it could use an existing market supply of recycled tin that meets its quality standards. The company is still looking at ways it can recover cobalt from its lithium-ion batteries and recycled cobalt.
Last year, the company launched Liam, a line of robots that can disassemble an iPhone 6, sorting its components accordingly.
"With two Liam lines up and running, we can take apart up to 2.4 million phones a year. It's an experiment in recycling technology that's teaching us a lot," the iPhone maker said.
In the report, Apple claimed that for every 100,000 iPhone 6 devices, Liam has the potential to recover 1900kg of aluminium, 800kg of copper, 0.3kg of gold, 0.4kg of platinum group metals, 7kg of silver, 55kg of tin, 550kg of Cobalt, 24kg of ‘rare earth elements', 3.5kg of Tungsten and 2.5kg of Tantalum.
Computing's IT Leaders Forum 2017 is coming on 24 May 2017.
The theme this year is "Going Digital: Why your most difficult customer is your best friend".
Attendence is free, but strictly limited to IT Leaders. To find out more and to apply for your place, check out the IT Leaders Forum website.
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