Apple has requested that its iPhone manufacturers uses recycled rare Earth elements in the Taptic Engine part of the new iPhone 11 variants. The Taptic Engine powers haptic feedback in new iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. The Taptic Engine was developed by Apple to produce the sensation of being tapped on the wrist as a less intrusive way of notifying the user
The Taptic Engine itself will represent 25 percent of the total rare Earth elements used in the latest iPhone 11 models. A rare Earth element refers to is one of a set of seventeen chemical elements in the periodic table. These elements have unique magnetic, luminescent, and electrochemical properties. The elements are used in weapons, consumer electronics and other goods.
Rare Earth elements have become a factor in the trade dispute between the U.S. and China, something fuelled by the majority of the world’s rare Earth elements being found in China. Apple’s use of recycled materials is thus a part commitment to the environment, and a part acceptance that certain materials may well become harder to obtain. This is notwithstanding that Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, stating that Apple’s use of recycled rare Earths was “not related” to the trade tensions.
Jackson instead focuses on Apple’s green credentials: “People said it couldn’t be done that you couldn’t use recycled rare earth materials — our new iPhones prove you can. Our charge is to do what Apple does with every innovation which is to do things that have never been done before and then use our scale in the marketplace and relationships with suppliers to bring that forward for the world. We’re innovating down to the details”.
Recycling the elements contributes to the environment. Recycling rare Earth elements helps slow the damage done by reducing the need for both mining and processing raw materials.
This news follows Apple’s earlier announcement that it successfully integrated recycled aluminum into MacBook Air last year. Apple has also ensured that the enclosures for the new iPad and Apple Watch will be made with 100 percent recycled aluminum, for the first time.