Apple to use 100pc recycled cobalt in batteries by 2025

13 Apr 2023

Image: © prima91/

Cobalt is an essential element in most smartphone batteries, but the element is controversial due to its association with unsafe mining practices and the use of child labour.

With just a little more than two weeks to go until Earth Day, Apple has committed to using 100pc recycled cobalt for its batteries by 2025, the company confirmed today (13 April).

The move is part of a broader push by Apple to make all of its products carbon neutral across the full lifecycle by the end of the decade.

Measures introduced today include a commitment to ensure magnets in Apple devices will use entirely recycled rare earth elements and all Apple-designed printed circuit boards will use 100pc recycled tin soldering and 100pc recycled gold plating.

Almost exactly a year ago, Apple said it was doubling its use of recycled materials in products and pushing to eliminate plastics in packaging by 2025.

Today, the tech giant sources more than two-thirds of all aluminium, nearly three-quarters of all rare earths and more than 95pc of all tungsten in Apple products from 100pc recycled material.

“Every day, Apple is innovating to make technology that enriches people’s lives, while protecting the planet we all share,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.

“From the recycled materials in our products, to the clean energy that powers our operations, our environmental work is integral to everything we make and to who we are. We’ll keep pressing forward in the belief that great technology should be great for our users and for the environment.”

While cobalt is an essential ingredient in the manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries that power smartphones and other devices, the element is mired in controversy, not just because of unethical mining practices involving child labour, but also the fatal health effects the activity has on those who engage in it.

Most of the world’s supply of cobalt is sourced from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and human rights organisation Amnesty International noted that child labour is strongly linked to the industry in the country.

Apple said that a quarter of all cobalt used in its products came from recycled material last year, up from only 13pc in 2021.

“Our ambition to one day use 100pc recycled and renewable materials in our products works hand-in-hand with Apple 2030: our goal to achieve carbon neutral products by 2030,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic