Apple likes to talk about itself as a globally-aware company with an eye on human rights and the environment. In recent years, the company has had to address disturbing reports from its Chinese factories that were often compared to sweat shops and suicide farms. This time, they’re getting ahead of the ball on the environmental and social impact of its iPhone, iPads and other devices.
In its annual environmental report launched with the phrase, “To ask less of the planet, we ask more of ourselves,” Apple outlines a plan to begin producing their devices with no environmental impact whatsoever. The plan calls for using completely recycled materials that will not require any mining of materials like cobalt, tantalum, tungsten and gold as they currently do.
This new process will not only allow Apple to make devices without mining, but will also reduce global conflicts in areas where reports have shown that children are used to mine for cobalt under inhumane conditions.
Apple’s nowhere near there yet, though, and they admit it. “We’re actually doing something we rarely do, which is announce a goal before we’ve completely figured out how to do it,” Lisa Jackson, Apple’s head of environmental policy, told Vice News.
The plan also calls for more customers to recycle their devices. In order to speed up the process, Apple built a robot called “Liam” that can disassemble as many as 2.4 million phones per year for re-use. This is, however, a drop in the bucket when one considers that apple shipped 75 million iPhones in the fourth quarter of 2016, as pointed out by Ben Chapman at Independent.
That all said, it’s a start, and Apple’s transparency on the issue is welcome in an industry often shrouded in secrecy and corporate “not me’s.”