Resources In the future, can we make products without taking finite resources from the earth?

Our goal is a closed-loop supply chain.

Traditional supply chains are linear. Materials are mined, manufactured as products, and often end up in landfills after use. Then the process starts over and more materials are extracted from the earth for new products. We believe our goal should be a closed-loop supply chain, where products are built using only renewable resources or recycled material. We already have programs in place to ensure that the finite materials we use in our products are sourced responsibly through strict standards and programs that drive positive change. We’re also challenging ourselves to one day end our reliance on mining altogether. To start, we’re encouraging more customers to recycle their old devices through Apple Renew. And 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. It’s an ambitious goal that will require many years of collaboration across multiple Apple teams, our suppliers, and specialty recyclers — but our work is already under way.

In addition, we’re committed to making sure all the waste created by our supply chain is reused, recycled, composted, or, when necessary, converted into energy. Seventeen of our 18 final assembly sites have received UL’s Zero Waste to Landfill validation, diverting more than 240,000 metric tons of waste from landfills since January 2015. And we’ve recently expanded this initiative to 25 more suppliers.

Closing the Loop in Our Supply Chain

Raw Materials(removed in close-loop supply chain)

to Processing

to Manufacturing

to Customer Use

to E-waste (removed in close-loop supply chain)

Raw Materials and E-Waste are replaced in close loop supply chain with a loop back from Customer use to Processing throughReuse and Recycling

We’re inventing better ways to reuse and recycle. Like Liam, the line of disassembly robots.

Existing recycling techniques, such as shredding, only recover a few kinds of materials and often diminish their quality. So we invented Liam, a line of robots that can quickly disassemble iPhone 6, sorting its high-quality components and reducing the need to mine more resources from the earth. 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.

We’ve already begun using some of the reclaimed components to build new devices. For example, we took the aluminum enclosures Liam recovered from iPhone 6, melted them down, and reused the material to create Mac mini computers that we use in our iPhone final assembly facilities.

Then we asked ourselves — what can we do next? So we evaluated 44 elements to identify key risk factors from a global perspective, from environmental risks to human rights violations, to better understand where we can focus on closing the loop. We started with tin. We’re now using 100 percent recycled tin for the solder in the main logic board of iPhone 6s, and we send iPhone 6 main logic boards recovered by Liam to a recycler who can reclaim the tin in addition to the copper and precious metals.footnote 1 Next, we’ll be experimenting with ways to recover cobalt from our lithium-ion batteries and to use recycled cobalt.

Materials Liam has the potential to recover for every 100,000 iPhone 6 devices

  • Aluminum 1900 kg
  • Gold 1.3 kg
  • Silver 7 kg
  • Rare Earth Elements 24 kg
  • Tungsten 3.5 kg
  • Copper 800 kg
  • Platinum Group Metals 0.4 kg
  • Tin 55 kg
  • Cobalt 550 kg
  • Tantalum 2.5 kg

When we use renewable resources, we make sure to use them responsibly.

The earth’s most precious resources, like water and paper, are renewable if they’re managed responsibly. So we do everything we can to conserve them. We’re measuring our water footprint and finding ways to reduce or reuse water wherever possible. We’re also using paper and plastic more efficiently in our packaging, and tackling our zero-waste-to-landfill goals at our campuses and retail stores. And we’re committed to protecting and creating more sustainable forests than we’re using.

We hold ourselves accountable for every drop of water we use.

Water is essential to all life. We need it to drink, to grow our food, and to maintain natural ecosystems throughout the planet. And though water is a renewable resource, its scarcity makes it precious in many parts of the world. So we hold ourselves accountable for the water we use, whether at our headquarters in California or in our suppliers’ facilities around the globe. We’re constantly seeking ways to conserve water and discharge wastewater safely.

At our own facilities, we monitor water use within our cooling, landscaping, and sanitation processes so we can develop targeted ways to reduce it. For example, we’ve installed sophisticated sensor and control devices in our landscaping in Santa Clara Valley, California. This will reduce irrigation water use by up to 30 percent compared with 2015 — saving about 58,000 cubic meters per year. In our data centers, we’ve implemented submetering to pinpoint areas of use, detect leakage, and develop better ways to prevent waste. And we’re increasing our use of rainwater or recycled water for nonpotable purposes at Apple Park; our facilities in Santa Clara Valley and Austin, Texas; and our data centers in Ireland, Denmark, and North Carolina.

We also established the Clean Water Program to conserve water and prevent water pollution in our supply chain. By surveying our supplier facilities’ water usage, and looking at Life Cycle Assessment water data to identify components that require larger amounts of water use, we can help our suppliers adopt more mindful conservation strategies. We also look closely at global water scarcity data so we can focus our efforts where they matter most. Through employee training, baseline assessments, performance evaluations, and technical support, we’ve already helped our suppliers conserve more than 11.3 million cubic meters of water in 2016 alone, increasing average water reuse to 36 percent across 86 sites. And since many of our suppliers also build components for other companies, we’re reducing the water footprint of non-Apple products, too.

We’re not just protecting forests. We’re protecting future generations of them.

Forests provide wood fiber for the paper we use in our packaging. They also clean our air, purify our water, and shelter wildlife. So we work hard to minimize our impact by sourcing paper responsibly and using it as efficiently as possible. But that’s not enough. The world’s forests still face widespread destruction due to illegal logging, poor management, and aggressive land development. That’s why we’re determined to protect and create enough sustainably managed forests around the world to cover all our packaging needs and produce fiber for generations.

Sourcing virgin paper responsibly.

When we use virgin paper in our packaging, our suppliers must source it from sustainably managed forests or controlled wood sources. And we conduct regular audits to ensure that they adhere to our specifications. In fiscal year 2016, over 99 percent of the paper used in our packaging and corporate offices was from either sustainably managed forests or controlled wood or recycled sources.

Protecting sustainable forests.

We continue to protect and create sustainable working forests because when properly managed, they can provide abundant resources for a long time. In addition to specifying that all our virgin fiber be sourced from responsibly managed forests, we wanted to make sure we weren’t diminishing the world’s supply of responsible fiber. So we set a goal to protect or create enough sustainably managed forests to cover all our product packaging needsfootnote 2. In 2017, we met our goal: Yearly production from our forest conservation projects is now greater than the amount of virgin fiber used in Apple’s product packaging during fiscal year 2016.  In partnership with The Conservation Fund, we’ve protected 14,600 hectares of sustainable forest in the Eastern United States. And our latest effort in China with World Wildlife Fund is our most ambitious yet. So far, we’ve transitioned approximately 130,000 hectares of forest in China toward Forest Stewardship Council certification. As our paper demands grow and change, we will continue protecting and creating enough sustainably managed forests to cover all our packaging needs.

Using more sources of sustainable paper and less plastic in our packaging.

We’re constantly looking for ways to make our packaging smaller, creating technologies that use paper more efficiently, and using recycled paper whenever we can. In fact, in fiscal year 2016, more than 60 percent of the paper used in our packaging was made of recycled wood fiber. We’re also designing our packaging to use fewer plastics. For example, the accessory tray in the iPhone 7 box is made from a mix of sustainably harvested bamboo fiber and bagasse, a waste by-product of sugarcane manufacturing.

A durable device is a greener device.

When products can be used longer, fewer resources need to be extracted from the earth to make new ones. So we assess all our products in our Reliability Testing Lab, using rigorous testing methods that simulate our customers’ real-world experiences with their devices. For example, we analyze how devices stand up to extreme heat and cold, exposure to water and everyday chemicals, and scratching tests from materials like steel wool and denim. In addition to industry-standard measures, we also devise our own tests and even build custom testing machinery. We design these tests based on our studies of user behavior and by analyzing returned products to fully understand any problems.

In the event that something does break, we have programs like AppleCare and Apple-certified repair services to help our customers use their devices longer. We also release regular free software updates that keep our products current and extend their lives as long as possible. And we design those software updates to be compatible with older generations of products. macOS Sierra, for example, is compatible with Mac models dating back to late 2009. And when customers decide to upgrade to new devices, the old ones often have new lives with friends or family, or in the refurbished market through programs like Apple Renew.