Apple devices to use rechargeable batteries made with recycled cobalt by 2025

Rechargeable batteries - Smartphone with recycling symbol

The company is moving ahead with a strategy for carbon-neutral products in two years.

As a part of Apple’s strategy to achieve carbon neutrality throughout the length of its supply chain and product life cycle by the end of the decade, it is promising rechargeable batteries made with 100 percent recycled cobalt in its devices.

This step is a strong one along the road to reaching the company’s sustainability goals.

Apple announced that it would have the recycled cobalt in its rechargeable batteries by 2025. Furthermore, the iPhone maker also announced that it would be working recycled rare earth elements into magnets for its devices. At the same time, the printed circuit boards designed in-house will use recycled gold plating and tin soldering.

Rechargeable batteries - Cobalt - recycling

Each of these efforts is another step along the path Apple is taking to reduce its carbon and overall environmental footprint while promoting supply chain sustainability.

This announcement follows closely on the heels of another when it announced the doubling of its financial pledge to a fund it created in 2021. That fund’s purpose is for investments into projects working on the removal of carbon from the atmosphere. This aligns with Apple’s ongoing carbon footprint reduction strategy to fight climate change.

Cobalt is a particularly important change for recycled rechargeable batteries, as there is a social responsibility as well.

Tech companies have faced massive criticism in recent years for the role they played in the deaths of kids in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who were forced to mine cobalt. This vital component in rechargeable batteries is found in all sorts of common consumer electronics. Increased demand has only worsened child labor exploitation in the DRC.

Though most cobalt production occurs as a copper or nickel mining byproduct, southern Congo’s artisanal miners are reliant on mining abundant deposits just under the surface. As a result, concerns have skyrocketed over child labor use among a long list of other unethical practices that are woven into the supply chain for cobalt.

Apple has been raising the amount of recycled cobalt it has used in its products as a part of an effort to address those serious concerns. By last year, one quarter of all cobalt used in the company’s devices was recycled, representing a 13 percent increase.

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