Safer Materials How do we make sure our products stay safe for people and the planet?

We run our own environmental testing lab.

To protect people and the planet, we set strict standards on the materials used in our devices, often going far beyond what’s required by law. We also built the Environmental Testing Lab, where our chemists and toxicologists look for any potentially harmful substances rather than waiting for a third party to identify them for us. One process we use involves laser-based instruments — just like the one used by the Mars rover to analyse soil samples — to ensure that our products are free of beryllium. The lab also uses tools like inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, and ion, liquid or gas chromatography.

Our scientists have catalogued and analysed more than 20,000 individual parts.

We started our Full Material Disclosure programme to identify all the substances we use in all the parts we use. We’ve already looked at more than 20,000 individual components out of the 40,000 present in all our products, and we get data on more parts every day. We assess the different chemicals in those components using 18 different criteria. This helps us understand their effect on people’s health and on the environment.

To ensure the safety of Apple Watch, we make our own sweat.

We carefully test all product materials that come in contact with skin. For example, many people are allergic to nickel, which is common in many alloys like stainless steel. So we do nickel leach testing on Apple Watch to measure how quickly nickel can transfer from metal parts into sweat. We even create artificial sweat to conduct such tests. By placing different components in jars of the artificial sweat, we can closely monitor samples to ensure that substances like nickel stay where they belong.

Setting high standards for the safety of our products. And the people who help make them.

We also work to protect the health and safety of the people who work in our supply chain. The standards we set for our suppliers go far beyond what’s required by law, like our Regulated Substances Specification (RSS) list, which identifies the toxic chemicals we limit or prohibit in our manufacturing processes and products. We also lead audits that inventory chemical purchasing and map chemicals across our supply chain. We've removed the toxins benzene, n-hexane, toluene and chlorinated organic compounds from all of our final assembly sites, while continuing to work with our suppliers to help them better manage chemicals used in manufacturing. And our toxicologists rigorously analyse the safety of materials our suppliers use by looking at data from our Environmental Testing Lab.

The worst toxins and what we’ve done about them.

After we identify toxins in our products, we reduce them, remove them or develop new materials that are safer. These efforts also remove toxins from our manufacturing and recycling processes, which protects workers and keeps pollutants out of the land, air and water.

Beryllium

Eliminated from all new product designs. Beryllium is found in copper alloys used to make connectors and springs.

Mercury

Eliminated in 2009. We use energy-efficient, mercury-free LEDs and OLEDs instead of mercury-based fluorescent lamps in all our displays.

Lead

Phased out of display glass and solder in 2006.

Arsenic

Eliminated from display glass since 2008. Arsenic was traditionally used in glass.

PVC and Phthalates

Replaced with safer thermoplastic elastomers.* Both are still used by other companies in power cables and headphone cables.

Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs)

Eliminated from thousands of parts such as enclosures, circuit boards and connectors in 2008. We use safer metal hydroxides and phosphorus compounds in their place.

We can do a lot. But we can’t do it alone.

We want insights and ideas from those who share our commitment to removing toxins. So we formed our own Green Chemistry Advisory Board, made up of some of the world’s leading toxicologists, researchers and academics. The board helps us identify innovative ways to minimise or eliminate toxins from our supply chain. We also invite experts from around the world to meet with leaders at Apple. Together, we focus on eliminating toxins at each stage of our process, while sharing our learnings through Green America’s Clean Electronics Production Network. And we seek out the best ideas and insights from top NGOs to help us make our products and processes even safer.