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Praise for Apple’s ‘closed-loop’ vision

Apple’s announcement last month that it wants to one day bring an end to its reliance on mining and move to a circular business model has been well received.

The company set out its ambitions to pioneer a “closed-loop supply chain, where products are built using only renewable resources or recycled material” in its 2017 environment report. Apple said it is committed to reusing, recycling and composting the waste generated by its supply chain.

Apple’s ultimate goal is to completely cut its links with mining. Dr Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada hailed “Apple’s foresight” saying “there is absolutely no need for deep sea mining”.

Professor Richard Steiner of Oasis Earth added: ” One of the default arguments of deep sea mine (DSM) proponents is that the world economy will need the Rare Earth Elements and other minerals from the deep ocean for a growing demand for communications technologies. Apple’s announcement shows this is will not be the case. The days of digging holes for raw materials, using them once or twice, discarding them into landfills, and then digging more holes for more raw materials to waste – are clearly numbered.”

Through its Apple Renew initiative, Apple has made a start in urging consumers to recycle old devices. At the heart of these efforts is Liam – a line of robots – Apple is using to transform the recycling process. It can strip an iphone6 in quick time picking out high-quality components for reuse.

“We’re piloting innovative new recycling techniques, like our line of disassembly robots, so we can put reclaimed materials to better use in new products,” Apple said. “With two Liam lines up and running, we can take apart up to 2.4 million phones a year. It’s an experiment in recycling technology that’s teaching us a lot, and we hope this kind of thinking will inspire others in our industry,” Apple said.

One positive outcome has already been achieved, with aluminum enclosures recovered by Liam from iPhone 6 used to  “create Mac mini computers that we use in our iPhone final assembly facilities.”

Check out these short videos Apple released on Earth Day to hear more about its strategies relating to the environment.

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