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Apple goes green, commits to using 100% recycled cobalt by 2025

It may not sound too noteworthy, but Apple making a commitment to recycle cobalt means a great deal to their eco-friendly commitment.

A cutoff person is holding an iPhone in their hand, with a Mac computer and an iPad behind them, showing all their Apple products.

The tech industry is going greener, and Apple is no exception. In a press release the company shared on April 13, Apple announced that 100% of the batteries it designs will be made with recycled cobalt by 2025. Apple uses their own batteries in a range of products, including MacBooks and iPhones.

Sound boring? This is actually a pretty big deal… because cobalt mining has big environmental and social costs. About 15% of the cobalt mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)—which produces 70% of the world’s cobalt supply—is produced from what’s called “artisanal” mining. Don’t be fooled by the fancy lingo. “Artisanal” miners hand-dig for ore in abysmal working conditions that expose them to toxic gasses and radioactive materials. And it’s not just the miners that are affected. DRC residents breathe in cobalt dust daily… which, according to the CDC, may cause cancer.

Given cobalt’s terrible image, Apple’s switch may just be a PR stunt. But it’s aligned with bigger goals the company is chasing to become more eco-friendly. In addition to the switch to recycled cobalt, Apple aims to use recycled tin soldering, gold plating, and rare earth elements in several of their devices by 2025. And they are trying to make all their products carbon neutral by 2030.

A switch to 100% recycled cobalt is ambitious, given that Apple used only 25% recycled cobalt last year. But the company is no stranger to making huge strides in a short time. In 2021, they only used 13% recycled cobalt—which means they doubled their recycled cobalt usage in just one year. And they’ve used recycled materials before. In 2022, most of the tungsten the company used was made from recycled material.

Given this history of progress (and the apparent billions Apple has lying around in cash), using 100% recycled cobalt by 2025 seems doable…even though that is barely two years away.

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Hopefully, Apple’s announcement will encourage other companies to purchase recycled cobalt instead of supporting abhorrent mining practices. In the meantime, all we can do is learn more about how our tech is manufactured so that we can make more responsible purchasing decisions. And once 2025 hits, we’ll all feel better about buying Apple products (because let’s face it, we were going to do that anyway).

Sasha Graffagna is a trilingual content creator with 7+ years of experience creating written, visual, and audio content. She's passionate about productivity, health, and empowering individuals and businesses effectively convey their message to their desired audience.


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