The electronic sector has a huge waste problem which makes news of Apple transiting to products made with 100% recycled material very good indeed.
Asides the problem of electronic waste, there is also a dark side of tech manufacture that making products with 100% recycled material will help to reduce.
Currently, it is estimated that 60 million tons of electronic waste is buried in Earth’s landfills each and every year. At that rate, the contamination of surrounding soil with heavy metals is a foregone conclusion.
Considering that most countries in Africa still subsist on Agriculture, this contamination has catastrophic effects that are not limited to the economy alone but also touch on the health of consumers who eat the products.
Shifting our focus to the dark side of tech manufacture, there is the fact that digging for the raw materials used to make these tech products is a deadly line of work that continues to sponsor the practice of child labor and modern day slavery in African countries.
Human rights groups have continued to fight against this practice over the years and it would seem that Apple is finally willing to listen up and present more than a surface solution.
The company will stage an environmental intervention as highlighted in their 2017 Progress Report. There the company highlighted their emphasis on environmental responsibility and pledged to go 100% recycled/renewable in the near future.
A specific timeline was not chosen for their 100 recycled materials goal but the company is already making huge strides towards becoming cleaner and more responsible.
For instance, Apple’s data centers are entirely powered by solar, wind, or hydroelectric power and about 96% of the company’s worldwide facilities run on renewable energy with over 99% of their packaging is already made with reprocessed and responsibly sourced materials.
Apple VP of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson told Vice:
“We’re actually doing something we rarely do, which is announce a goal before we’ve completely figured out how to do it.
So we’re a little nervous, but we also think it’s really important, because as a sector we believe it’s where technology should be going.”
Apple certainly deserves applause for the plans that will take the technology sector into a more responsible production arena. It, however, remains necessary for individuals and larger human right groups to continue to make sure that they are indeed moving in the direction of their promises.