Apple is planning to raise the bar on environmental sustainability efforts by halting the use of materials that are mined from the earth and instead turning to use of recycled materials. This was announced as the Cupertino, California-based technology giant released its Environment Responsibility Report for this year.

Some of the materials that Apple will be targeting for recycling include tungsten, tin, copper and aluminum. However, the iPhone maker has admitted that how it will all be achieved hasn’t been fully worked out.

“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,” Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, Lisa Jackson, said.

Low recycling rates

Despite the growing proliferation of electronic devices, only about 16% of the e-waste that is generated gets recycled according to a report by the United Nations. Currently, only a tiny portion of the materials that make up the iPhone are recycled materials. The iPhone maker, however, plans to manufacture its products from recycled materials obtained from products that have been returned to Apple by customers as well as high-quality recycled materials acquired from suppliers.

Meeting the goal of zero-use of mined materials will not only be beneficial for the environment since it will prevent degradation and pollution but could also contribute towards ending conflicts in areas where the precious minerals are seen as exacerbating fighting. The move could also help in preventing child labor. Last year an investigative report disclosed that child workers were being used in Congo’s cobalt mines. Cobalt is used in making lithium batteries that device manufacturers like Apple use in their gadgets.

Renewable energy

Additionally, Apple’s Environment Responsibility Report touched on other sustainability goals the world’s biggest company by market capitalization has set for itself. One major achievement the tech giant has made is increasing the use of renewable energy at its data centers, corporate offices and retail stores. While a year ago renewable energy comprised approximately 93% of the energy used in its facilities, it has since then grown to 96%.

Apple’s 3rd-party manufacturers are not included in the switch to renewable energy but the iPhone maker has said there is progress being made with them also. Seven major Apple suppliers have, for instance, promised to exclusively use renewable energy by the close of 2018.

With regards to packaging, sustainably managed forests in China and in the United States are under the protection of Apple and these are expected to provide packaging materials that the company will use in its products for the foreseeable future.

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