Apple announced a series of sustainable material goals for its products, including a new target to use 100% recycled cobalt in batteries by 2025, up from around 25% in 2022.
Cobalt, a critical material in batteries enabling high energy density, is used in most consumer electronics, including Apple’s iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and MacBook. More than half of the world’s cobalt is mined in the Katanga Copperbelt in DR Congo, with an estimates 15-20% extracted by artisanal miners and small scale mining operations, raising significant human rights concerns for company supply chains.
Additional goals announced by the company include 2025 targets for magnets in Apple devices to use entirely recycled rare earth elements, and for all Apple-designed printed circuit boards to use 100 percent recycled tin soldering and 100 percent recycled gold plating.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said:
“Every day, Apple is innovating to make technology that enriches people’s lives, while protecting the planet we all share. From the recycled materials in our products to the clean energy that powers our operations, our environmental work is integral to everything we make and to who we are. So we’ll keep pressing forward in the belief that great technology should be great for our users, and for the environment.”
According to the company, the new targets will contribute to Apple’s goals to eventually use only recycled and renewable materials in its products, and its 2030 ambition to make all products carbon neutral.
Apple has made significant progress towards its sustainable material ambition over the past few years, including nearly doubling the proportion of recycled cobalt in its products in 2022, as well as increasing the use of 100% certified recycled rare earth elements to 73% in 2022 from 45% in 2021. The company has prioritized 14 materials for its transition to recycled and renewable content – including aluminum, cobalt, copper, glass, gold, lithium, paper, plastics, rare earth elements, steel, tantalum, tin, tungsten, and zinc – based on environment, human rights and supply impact. The materials account for nearly 90% of the material shipped in Apple products.
Lisa Jackson, Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, said:
“Our ambition to one day use 100 percent recycled and renewable materials in our products works hand in hand with Apple 2030: our goal to achieve carbon neutral products by 2030. We’re working toward both goals with urgency and advancing innovation across our entire industry in the process.”