Apple has announced a major acceleration of its work to expand recycled materials across its products, including a new 2025 target to use 100% recycled cobalt in all Apple-designed batteries.
Additionally, the goal is that, by 2025, magnets in Apple devices will use entirely recycled rare earth elements, and all Apple-designed printed circuit boards will use 100% recycled tin soldering and 100% recycled gold plating.
In 2022, the company significantly expanded its use of key recycled metals, and now sources over two-thirds of all aluminum, nearly three-quarters of all rare earths, and more than 95% of all tungsten in Apple products from 100% recycled material. This rapid progress brings Apple closer to its aim to one day make all products with only recycled and renewable materials, and advances the company’s 2030 goal to make every product carbon neutral, according to Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives.
She says Apple has significantly expanded the use of 100% certified recycled cobalt over the past three years, making it possible to include in all Apple-designed batteries by 2025. In 2022, a quarter of all cobalt found in Apple products came from recycled material, up from 13 percent the previous year.
Cobalt is a critical material in the batteries used in most consumer electronics, including Apple devices, enabling high energy density while also meeting Apple’s robust standards for longevity and safety. Apple-designed batteries found in iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, MacBook, and many other products represent a significant majority of the company’s use of cobalt, says Jackson.
She adds that the company’s use of 100% certified recycled rare earth elements has greatly expanded in the last year as well, going from 45% in 2021 to 73% in 2022. Since first introducing recycled rare earths in the Taptic Engine of iPhone 11, Apple has expanded its use of the material across its devices, including in all magnets found in the latest iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, MacBook, and Mac models.
As magnets are by far Apple’s largest use of rare earths, the new 2025 target means nearly all rare earths in Apple products will soon be 100 percent recycled, Jackson says.
As part of the accelerated new timeline, all Apple-designed printed circuit boards will use 100% certified recycled gold plating by 2025. This includes rigid boards, such as the main logic board, and flexible boards, like those connecting to the cameras or buttons in iPhone. Since pioneering an exclusively recycled supply chain for gold in the plating of the main logic board for iPhone 13, Apple has extended the material’s use in additional components and products, including the wire of all cameras in the iPhone 14 lineup, and printed circuit boards of iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods Pro, MacBook Pro, Mac mini, and HomePod.
What’s more, by 2025, the company plans to use 100%certified recycled tin solderingon all Apple-designed printed rigid and flexible circuit boards. In recent years, Apple’s use of recycled tin has expanded to the solder of many flexible printed circuit boards across Apple products, with 38% of all tin used last year coming from recycled sources. The application of recycled tin across even more components is underway, and Apple says it’s engaging more suppliers in this effort.