When Apple makes headlines, it’s usually because they are introducing a new product, but the company recently made news for a different reason. Late last year, Apple announced plans to begin manufacturing some of their most popular products out of recycled materials.
In the past, Apple asked all of the recyclers that the company worked with to shred their devices instead of reusing or recycling the devices’ parts. However, that is no longer the company’s policy. The announcement that the company will use recycled materials shows that they are making a genuine effort to become more eco-friendly.
The Importance of Using Recycled Materials
Many people celebrated Apple’s decision to use recycled materials to produce new electronic devices. But, why? A number of materials are needed to produce a single electronic device, including aluminum, copper, tin, and cobalt. All of these substances need to be mined from the earth, which can significantly impact the surrounding areas. Mining often leads to sinkholes, severe erosion, and the contamination of groundwater. Mining can lead to such severe environmental damage that it can often impact the area’s biodiversity as well.
If Apple truly does use recycled materials to produce new phones and computers, the company will no longer need to mine for new materials in order to meet the demand for new products. Therefore, this decision will protect areas of the earth that would have otherwise been severely damaged by mining for new materials.
Apple is not only reducing the demand for harmful mining practices, it’s also raising awareness of the importance of recycling electronic devices. E-waste is a growing problem that is showing no sign of slowing down. When electronic devices are sent to landfills instead of recycled in a responsible manner, they can leak toxic chemicals that harm the environment and people in the surrounding areas. Even though e-waste accounts for only 2% of the waste in landfills, it makes up 70% of the toxic waste.
Since making this announcement, Apple launched an in-store and online recycling program. The company now encourages consumers to recycle their devices either by bringing them into an Apple store or getting a prepaid mailing label online. Apple even provides consumers with information on how to clear the data off of their devices prior to recycling it. Since Apple is seen as a leader in the industry, consumers are more likely to trust the company as a reliable source of information.
Apple also rewards consumers who choose to recycle with a gift card or credit. This incentive will definitely motivate more consumers to recycle their devices instead of sending them to sit in landfills. Therefore, many people predict that Apple’s recent announcement could significantly reduce the amount of e-waste that is sent to landfills every year.
Can Apple Do More To Solve the E-Waste Problem?
Apple’s decision to use recycled materials to create new products is certainly good for the environment. However, some critics have pointed out that there are many other things the manufacturer could do to solve the e-waste problem. For starters, Apple could make an effort to produce electronic devices that last longer. Many consumers are forced to buy new devices when their old ones become inoperable. Repairs are often out of the question since repairing Apple devices is much more difficult—not to mention expensive—than repairing other manufacturers’ devices. If Apple either made devices that were easier to fix or more durable, consumers wouldn’t have to buy new devices as often. This would lower the demand for new products and reduce the number of electronic devices that are thrown away.
Critics have also argued that if Apple were truly interested in becoming more eco-friendly, they would space out the release of new products. For example, instead of releasing a new iPhone every few years, the company could wait five years before introducing a new device. If there is no newer model available, Apple consumers are more likely to stick with the phone they have instead of buying a new phone and creating more e-waste.
Many critics also think that Apple’s decision to make phones out of recycled materials was motivated by the desire to foster goodwill among consumers, not the desire to become more eco-friendly. Since making phones last longer or slowing down the release of new products would impact Apple’s bottom line, critics argue they chose this option since it would generate good publicity without financially harming the company.
Even if some people question Apple’s motives, the truth is that this announcement is a step in the right direction. Not only will it lessen the demand for new materials that need to be mined from the earth, it will also put pressure on other competitors to follow in Apple’s footsteps. Now that Apple is committing to becoming more eco-friendly, other manufacturers will have no choice but to do so as well or risk losing customers. In fact, it’s possible that Apple’s decision to use recycled materials was partly motivated by Samsung’s decision to refurbish and recycle millions of Galaxy 7 smartphones.
Apple admitted that they still are not sure how they will reach their goal of using mainly recycled materials to produce new products. But, now that the announcement has been publicized, there’s no turning back for the brand.
ERI is the leading e-waste recycler, with multiple recycling facilities throughout the country. We are committed to recycling and reusing e-waste in a responsible manner. We work with clients in various industries, including finance, healthcare, and technology. These clients not only trust us to responsibly recycle their devices, but also to destroy their sensitive data. For more information on recycling your electronics, or to request a quote for your company, contact us today.